SpaceX debuting Block 5 first stage

SpaceX debuting Block 5 first stage

Standing more than 20 stories tall, the Falcon 9 Block 5 is the latest, and SpaceX says the final, major upgrade to the workhorse commercial rocket. The launch window was originally set to open at 4:12 p.m. EDT and the launch was pushed to 5:47 p.m. EDT, the company tweeted.

The first Block 5 Falcon 9 ascends into the Florida sky with Bangabandhu-1 for Bangladesh. When Block 5 proves itself today, the US space program will be one step closer to the first crew mission in years.

Eight minutes after launch, SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage booster on a ship off the coast in order to reuse the rocket again.

Those improvements, SpaceX believes, will lead to more robust profit margins and help the already-prominent rocket gain an even deeper foothold in the launch services industry. That's more than half of the estimated overall $62 million price of the Falcon 9, according to various trade publications.

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"With this historical first satellite, Bangladesh inhabitants will have access to a wide range of broadcast and communications services", Thales Alenia Space, the company that designed and built the satellite, said in a statement.

Other changes include improved heat shield insulation at the base of the rocket, a tougher "octaweb" first stage engine mounting framework, redesigned turbopump machinery to minimize or eliminate small cracks in critical components and improved insulation in other areas of the rocket.

"Departing for Florida to witness historic Bangabandhu Satellite-1 launching", Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for the country's Information and Communication Technology Division, said via Twitter on Monday. SpaceX has landed and re-flown numerous Falcon 9 first stages over the past few years, but none of these individual boosters has launched more than twice.

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