SpaceX to launch 'Falcon 9 Block 5' on Thursday

SpaceX to launch 'Falcon 9 Block 5' on Thursday

SpaceX is set to launch a satellite Thursday on the first flight of a block 5 Falcon 9 vehicle. For SpaceX to become cost-effective, as it has aimed to do since the company was first founded, it has to make as many components on its rockets as reusable as possible. It is the country's first communications satellite.

The satellite, which has cost the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission USD 250 million, was made by Thales Alenia. STP-2 has a number of objectives, including demonstrating the new rocket's capabilities and launching several satellites.

Changes to the Block 5 version rocket include new thermal coatings, retractable landing legs, and safety modifications needed for future launches with astronauts on-board. It has more powerful engines and better heat shielding at the base of the rocket.

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That's a stark distinction from all other orbital rockets in use today, which are used once and then discarded in the ocean.

This goal can only be achieved if the new Falcon 9 version can really be reuse faster and easier.

"I think the F9 boosters could be used nearly indefinitely, so long as there is scheduled maintenance and careful inspections", Musk said on Reddit in October 2016.

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Known as the Falcon 9 Block 5, the rocket was about 60 seconds from launch at Cape Canaveral in Florida when its ground system went into an "auto-abort" mode due to an unknown technical issue. Nowadays, NASA sends astronauts to the International Space Station using Russia's Roscosmos space program.

Reusing the rockets is a major cost-saving step for space travel.

With greater refurbishment, a Block 5 could be launched up to 100 times.

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Launch window to start at 4:12 p.m. SpaceX will live-stream the launch here 20 minutes before liftoff, at around 3:50 pm today.

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