SpaceX on 11 May 2018 blasted off its newest and most powerful Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Block 5, carrying the first high-orbit communications satellite for Bangladesh and marking a leap forward in re-usability for the California-based aerospace company.
The rocket is designed to require far less maintenance and refurbishment between flights, and is certified to carry humans to space later this year when SpaceX launches its Dragon crew capsule to the International Space Station. “Three, two one, zero, ignition, liftoff,” a SpaceX commentator said as the rocket launched at 4:14 pm (2014 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket’s main goal for its maiden mission was to propel a communications satellite for Bangladesh, called Bangabandhu Satellite-1, to a geostationary transfer orbit roughly 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) above Earth.
With the launch of Bangabandhu-1, we are hoisting our national flag into space. The satellite will offer video and communications coverage over Bangladesh and its territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal, as well as in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The satellite will also provide broadband connectivity to rural areas throughout the country. Successful deployment of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to geostationary transfer orbit.
SpaceX has now landed 11 of its boosters on land and 14 on its droneships, which are floating platforms in the ocean, as part of its effort to bring down the cost of spaceflight and re-use costly rocket parts. The first crew launch for SpaceX is tentatively planned for December 2018. It will mark the first time since the end of the US space shuttle program in 2011 that a rocket has left US soil carrying people to space.