SpaceX launch for first Falcon 9 Block 5 set for Thursday evening

SpaceX launch for first Falcon 9 Block 5 set for Thursday evening

Falcon 9 Block 5 and Bangabandhu Satellite-1 went vertical on Pad 39A in Florida this morning.

Talking to our correspondent later Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood, said "Every single things of the satellite is being operated by computer and there is no scope for manual operation".

The satellite, apart from improving the communication services in Bangladesh, will also aid neighbouring Nepal, Myanmar and Bhutan.

But most eyes will be focused on the shiny new 23-story rocket carrying the satellite.

The first Block 5 Falcon 9 at Kennedy Space Center.

The rocket and the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 were set vertically on a launch pad at Kennedy Space Centre in the U.S. on Thursday morning local time, it said. Standing at more than 250 feet tall, the new rocket system is 40 percent bigger than the initial Falcon 9 launched back in 2010.

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Block 5 is meant to reach 10 or more re-flights without scheduled maintenance - in essence, by simply moving the rocket from its landing spot, refueling it and then putting it back out on the launchpad. Going into Thursday's launch, SpaceX's landing record stood at 24 successful booster recoveries, 12 on land and 12 on droneships.

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

"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. Although SpaceX has never fully divulged manufacturing costs, experts have estimated that the first stage of the rocket can cost up to $40 million alone. SpaceX is clearly trying to cut down the amount of time between when a rocket is first launched and when its first stage (and second stage, down the line) can be launched again. Musk hopes to begin test-launching the first BFR spaceships at SpaceX's Texas facilities early next year.

The Bangabandhu-1 is scheduled to launch at 5:47 p.m. ET. If for some reason the launch has to be scrubbed, the backup window opens on Friday, May 11 at 4:14pm EDT.

The live streaming of the premium satellite launch will be available live on SpaceX's YouTube channel. SpaceX will have its drone ship, called "Of Course I Still Love You", stationed in the Atlantic Ocean to catch it.

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