Originally scheduled to launch on Thursday, May 10th at 5:47 PM EST, the newest iteration of SpaceX's venerable Falcon 9 rocket has had its launch scrubbed due to a pad anomaly. The rocket lifted off successfully May 11 at 4:14 p.m. EDT, landed its first stage 11 minutes later and positioned Bangladesh's first telecom satellite, Bangabandhu-1, to geostationary transfer orbit just under 34 minutes later.
The cost of the launch of the new Falcon 9 starts with 62 million dollars, previously used in the first stage, from 50 million.
Indeed, the Block 5 first stage is created to fly 10 times with just inspections between landing and liftoff, and perhaps 100 times or more with some maintenance work involved, Musk said.
It also has a redesigned helium pressurant tanks, to avoid incidents like the one which took place at Cape Canaveral in 2016, when such a tank was the cause of a Falcon 9 rocket explosion.
By maintaining the Falcon 9 layout inactive, SpaceX can devote additional time and effort to its Large Falcon Rocket and Starlink satellite constellation.
"This is unquestionably the most innovative pressure vessel developed by humankind", Musk said. "We kind of embraced it in the Russians", he explained. SpaceX includes a contingency layout that would entail shifting from high-strength carbon fiber using an aluminum lining into the superalloy Inconel, but this is "unlikely to become mandatory", Musk said.
"In principle, we could refly Block 4 probably upwards of 10 times, but with a fair amount of work between each flight", Musk said.
Falcon 9 rocket, aiming to bring astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the future, came with many design changes to improve its reusability and reliability. Once the Block 5 Falcon 9 comes back from the autonomous landing ship, SpaceX engineers will have to take it apart to examine components and verify that it could fly again without maintenance.
" Undoubtedly, looks are a small consider rocket style, however I still like that we have actually returned for sentimental needs to having a black interstage", Musk stated. Although Musk and other SpaceX officials have known as the Block 5 the last layout, Musk suggested that some small improvements could nevertheless be made into the rocket. The single vacuum-optimized Merlin engine on Falcon 9's second stage has a 5 percent thrust increase to 220,000 pounds-force, he said.
"There will not be a Block 6", Musk said.
"We mean to stabilize the Block 5 stage and don't have any significant upgrades".