CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – SpaceX launched its spacecraft Block 5 Falcon 9 with the encapsulated Bangabandhu-1 satellite. The company calls this the last major upgrade of the vehicle, which first debuted in 2010. The start took place at 16:14 clock. EDT (20:14 GMT) May 11, 2018.
Block 5 offers a number of enhancements, including increased thrust, more heat protection on the first level to aid recovery, and more. SpaceX has said that more than 100 changes have been made to the Falcon 9 . The most visible is probably the black intermediate, the landing legs and the track (a sheltered path that runs along the side of the booster, which contains cables and pipes). In addition, the " octoweb ", the part at the base of the vehicle housing the nine Merlin 1D engines, was bolted instead of welded to allow for easier inspection.
"The key to Block 5 is designed to provide ten or more flights without refreshment between each flight – or at least no scheduled remediation between flights," said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, during a conference call ahead of Begin. "The only thing that has to change is that you recharge fuel and fly again."
Musk said he believes the Block 5 design can drive at least 100 flights before it retires. In fact, SpaceX plans to launch a block 5 Falcon 9 within 24 hours twice in 2019.
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The following photos were taken by Ryan Chylinski, Michael Howard, Michael Deep and Scott Schilke of SpaceFlight Insider's visual team
Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider