SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9 Launch

SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9 Launch

Today at 4:12 p.m., SpaceX will launch a new rocket from its iconic Falcon 9 fleet called the Block 5, sending into orbit a communications satellite for the Bangladeshi government.

The Falcon 9 rocket Block 5 will be the first true test of SpaceX's reusable spacecraft. But Musk has said Falcon 9 Block 5 will be the "final version" before SpaceX moves on to bigger, badder Mars rockets.

The first "Block 5" Falcon 9 is set to launch from pad 39A at 4:12 p.m., which is the opening of a two-hour 10-minute window. There's just a 20 percent chance that bad weather will spoil the attempt, officials with the U.S. Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron said on Monday (May 7). Afterwards, the two-stage rocket's first stage will make an attempt to land on a drone ship off the Florida coast. But what else makes the Block 5 exciting is that it meets NASA's requirements for carrying crew, and this might happen sometime this year.

SpaceX has pushed back the first flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket for a paying customer by several months to October but is scheduled to launch an updated Falcon 9 Thursday afternoon.

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On board for Thursday's mission: Bangabandhu-1, Bangladesh's first-ever geostationary communications satellite. They've ferried thousands of pounds of cargo to and from the International Space Station, put dozens of commercial satellites into orbit, launched classified military payloads, and raked in billions of dollars.

Falcon 9 and its three-core sibling, Falcon Heavy, will fill the gap and help fund research and development until BFR's debut.

"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. SpaceX engineers have also included extra shielding at the base of the rocket to protect the booster's propulsion systems as they reenter the atmosphere.

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