Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
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SpaceX upgraded rocket soars with satellite for Bangladesh

SpaceX upgraded rocket soars with satellite for Bangladesh

During the call, Musk discussed changes that SpaceX engineers have incorporated into the Block 5 variant of the rocket.

So far, the first-stage boosters have been recycled once, for a total of two flights apiece.

Watch the full mission again in the video found below. SpaceX plans to eventually phase out the vehicle - along with Dragon and the just-debuted Falcon Heavy rocket - in favor of the huge rocket-spaceship combo known as the BFR, which is now in development. As such, Block 5 rockets have been created to conform to NASA's crew-carrying requirements. It has more powerful engines and better heat shielding at the base of the rocket. And this boost was achieved without an increase in mass, Musk added. They now have 190,000 lbf of thrust at liftoff.

In addition, the new booster features a suite of reliability upgrades created to satisfy NASA's stringent crew-carrying standards, because SpaceX will use the Block 5 - as well as the company's Dragon capsule- to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Until now, SpaceX has only ever used any of its boosters twice.

Musk estimated the Falcon 9 Block 5 will make "something on the order of 300 flights", before retiring.

If everything works as SpaceX engineers hope, these rockets will not need any "regular maintenance" between each flight, and that such work would only be done every 10 flights or so. "Literally no actions taken, just like an aircraft", Musk said. Today's success marks the first time this rocket has been launched and successfully landed.

Ultimately, SpaceX will probably build about 30 to 50 Block 5 rockets, Musk said. Propellant costs a negligible $300,000 to $400,000, he said.

The Falcon 9 rocket landing.

This latest and final version of the company's Falcon 9 rocket - capable of more than 10 reflights, possibly even 100 - made its debut Friday. The company has also talked about retrieving the upper stage instead of letting it burn up over the Pacific Ocean.

With the new Falcon 9, that world is getting closer to becoming a reality. The company won't allow for humans onboard until it's flown seven successful launches, but with the rate of SpaceX's overall launch and return success, those seven successful launches could happen sooner than expected.

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