SpaceX is ready to launch an upgrade of the Falcon 9 rocket. The update will allow the rocket to be reused at lower costs. The enhancements also make the rocket safer as astronauts. The rocket will make its first launch carrying a Bangladesh communication Satellite called the Banghadhahu -1.
The upgraded satellite dubbed Falcon 9 Block 5 underwent testing at the Florida spaceport. The rocket is powered by nine Merlin 1D engines. These engines were tested at the SpaceX’s development site in Texas.
The new rocket now meets NASA’s human-rating requirement that was previously lacking in the Falcon 9. SpaceX has planned a hold-down engine firing of the Falcon 9 Block 5 on Monday, April 30 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
The launch is slated for May 4. This rocket will takeoff from pad 39A, and it will be the next launch of the pad after Falcon Heavy launched from Space Coast on February 6.
According to Hans Koenigsmann, the vice president of SpaceX’s build and flight reliability, the team is excited about the fast rate at which the upgrade was done. He also commented on the successful testing of the rocket, and their anticipation for the debut launch in early May.
Gwynne Shotwell also revealed in a question and answer session with reporters that the Block 5 is the last refurbishment that will be made on the Falcon 9. The Block 5 is the most significant refurbishment that was made to the Falcon 9.
The primary aim of the upgrade is to make the Falcon 9 reusable. The update will allow SpaceX to use the Falcon 9 up to ten times with minor refurbishment and up to 100 times with small works. The Block 5 features new landing legs.
The Block 4 was the launcher that launched NASA’s TESS on April 18th. After the launch of the Banghadhahu -1, the old Falcon 9 would also make a few more launches. SpaceX has also planned a two for takeoffs for May.
The Banghadhahu -1 which will be launched by the upgraded Falcon 9 is for the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Communication. The satellite is intended to improve communications in the country and the neighboring areas.
Thales Alenia Space, a French space firm built the satellite for the Bangladesh government. All is set for the launch, the testing of the Falcon 9 Block 5 has boost up confidence in the success of the launch.