Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

SpaceX launches its newest Falcon 9 rocket


The updated rocket is created to be reusable, which would drastically reduce costs of trips to space.

SpaceX will try again Friday to launch a new version of its Falcon 9 rocket that could eventually carry astronauts into space.

Falcon 9 took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 4:15 p.m. Flight controllers watched as the rocket took off without a hitch, successfully completing each stage of the mission. The first stage of the Falcon 9 will return to Earth following launch and attempt a touchdown on one of SpaceX's autonomous drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean.

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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 Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 includes improvements such as upgraded heat shields to protect the rocket's base during re-entry. In total, Falcon 9 rockets have made more than 50 trips to space over the past eight years. The communication satellite is named Bangabandhu-1 after the country's founding father.

The launch was postponed at the last minute Thursday, when an automatic abort switch was triggered, but SpaceX said it was just a glitch and the spacecraft remained in good health.

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SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk said launching the same rocket twice within 24 hours will be "crazy hard", but he hopes to pull off the feat as early as next year. "Ironically, we need to take it apart to prove that it does not need to be taken apart", he joked.

Besides missions to the space station, the new rocket will be used to launch U.S. Air Force global positioning satellites and other high-value, military and national security payloads. That was the final year of NASA's Space Shuttle program. Instead, SpaceX's rocket design team will focus on the BFR, the "Big Frickin' Rocket" that's meant to be capable of carrying payloads and people to the moon and Mars within the next decade.

"Would you rather fly in an aircraft that has never had a test flight before or would you rather fly in an aircraft that has flown many times successfully?" he said.

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Reusability is a key priority for Musk and his company. That's how the company intends to shave launch costs.

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