SpaceX's first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket races ahead of scheduled launch on May 10, 2018 toward NASA Kennedy Space Center in Launch Pad 39A.
Image: Elon Musk / Instagram
The latest version of SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 Rocket will debut today (May 1
The first "Block 5" Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch Bangalore 1 communications satellite Bangalore 1 for the Bangladesh Government today at 4:12 pm EDT (2012 GMT) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. And the first stage of the two-stage rocket will try to land on a robotic "drone ship" off the coast of Florida shortly after take-off. You can watch the action live here on Space.com and on our homepage, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly on the SpaceX website.
The startup window opens at 4:12 pm. EDT and runs until 18:22 EDT (2222 GMT). There is only a 20 percent chance that bad weather will thwart the attempt, officials from the 45th US Air Force weather squad said Monday (7 May). [6 Fun Facts About SpaceX]
Block 5 contains a number of improvements designed to increase the reliability and reusability of rockets, SpaceX officials said. The first stage of Block 4 Falcon 9 is limited to two launches, but the first stage of Block 5 should be ten times liftable – with only inspections between landing and takeoff – and up to 100 times with some refurbishments, depending on the company representative. (SpaceX has expressed a desire to reuse the upper tier of the two-stage Falcon 9 at some point, but has not yet made a concerted effort.)
The Block 5 was also designed to meet the stringent NASA requirements. SpaceX holds a billionaire NASA contract to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), and the company is using its Dragon Capsule and Block 5 Falcon 9.
The first crew-carried flights the system could already coming this year, representatives of SpaceX said.
Boeing also holds a NASA crew contract. The space giant will fly agency astronauts to and from the ISS with a capsule called CST-100 Starliner and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets.
Bangabandhu 1 will be Bangladesh's first communications satellite. The spacecraft will provide a variety of broadcast and communications services to residents of the densely populated South Asian nation, including the French company Thales Alenia Space, which built Bangabandhu 1.