We have seen so many Falcon 9 launches that they have become routine. But the Falcon 9 has gotten an upgrade. The first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket was launched successfully carrying the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). This is the latest upgrade and makes the rocket capable of 10 or more flights with only inspections and limited refurbishment in-between.
The liftoff was completed successfully. The rocket broke the sound barrier at the one-minute 14-second mark and the main engine was shut down at two minutes and 31 seconds. The first stage separated two seconds later. The second stage burned for 2 minutes and 4 seconds before coasting until the 27-minute 38-second mark, when a brief second burn placed the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 into its transfer orbit.
The first stage successfully touched down on the drone barge “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean marking the 25th successful Falcon 9 powered touchdown. The flight was set for last Thursday but was aborted one minute before launch.
The Block 5 improvement has a number of upgrades to increase the service life of the booster and to reduce turnaround time between recovery and launch. SpaceX claims that the new Block 5 rocket will be able to fly 10 times with only inspection and minimal maintenance between launches, and 100 times in total before needing to be replaced. In addition, the Block 5 can be reflown within 24 hours of recovery.
Other upgrades include 8% increase in thrust than the predecessors. Better flight controls allow a better angle of attack to save fuel and a heat shield at the base of the rocket protects it during reentry. The landing legs have also been improved to ensure easier recovery.
The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 is Bangladesh’s first geosynchronous communications satellite and marks another first along with the first successful launch of the Block 5 rocket. You can watch the replay video of the launch below: