Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Sci-tech | By Spencer Schmidt

SpaceX launches newly updated Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX launches newly updated Falcon 9 rocket

UPDATE 4 p.m.: Watch live as Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket launches.

SpaceX, a privately-owned California-based space transportation firm, said in a statement that the satellite would provide telecommunications coverage for Bangladesh and surrounding nations, and would also allow Bangladeshis living in remote, previously-unreached areas to receive internet and phone service. The satellite was successfully deployed into geostationary transfer orbit; the Block 5, meanwhile, landed on SpaceX's "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship in the Atlantic.

SpaceX says this version of its workhorse launcher can be flown 10 times with only minor maintenance in between flights.

The updated rocket is meant to be removable, which could drastically reduce fees of journeys to distance.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 launched the Bangladesh Communications Satellite Co.'s first orbital satellite, dubbed Bangabandhu-1, into orbit.

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The new Block 5 booster is seen as critical to SpaceX's plans to undertake crewed missions for NASA.

Satellite launching company SpaceX successfully threw Bangabandhu-1, the country's first commercial satellite, to the orbit in U.S. local time 4:14pm (Bangladesh time 2:14am).

In Friday's launch, the Falcon 9 carried Bangladesh's first communications satellite.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on May 11, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"From now on, we become a proud member of the satellite club", a beaming Hasina said in a pre-recorded address that was broadcast on national television and social media minutes after the successful launch.

"Block 5 is capable of at least 100 flights before being retired", Musk told reporters on a prelaunch conference call. They will eventually be used to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. "This rocket is really created to be - the intent is to be the most reliable rocket ever built". Previous versions of the Falcon 9 could be launched only twice before retirement.

BTRC purchased a turnkey contract for Bangabandhu-1 from European satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space in 2015 for $248 million that included the construction of ground infrastructure for satellite operations and the provisioning of a launch vehicle. The satellite Bangabandhu-1 is named after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the assassinated founder of Bangladesh.

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