SpaceX postpones its first commercial launch of updated Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX Set to Debut Newest Falcon 9 Rocket'Block 5

SpaceX's first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket rolls to its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit Elon Musk Instagram

The rocket was set to carry the Bangabandhu satellite-1, the first satellite for Bangladesh, into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The next launch opportunity is planned on May 11, starting at around 4:14 pm (2014 GMT) and ending at 6:21 pm. This satellite aims to provide broadcast and communications services to citizens in Bangladesh. The 8,000-pound spacecraft is expected to spend up to 15 years in orbit serving countries ranging from Turkmenistan to the west and the Philippines to the east, giving the Bangladesh Communications Satellite Company a digital foothold in the region.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 includes improvements such as upgraded heat shields to protect the rocket's base during re-entry.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk says the improved boosters can be reused more than 10 times each and require little or no work between launches.

The Block 5 rocket is the final version of SpaceX's Falcon 9 fleet.

The Block-5 will also be used to launch US Air Force global positioning satellites and other high-value, military and national security payloads. In total, more than 50 of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets have been launched to date.

Block 5 is meant to reach 10 or more re-flights without scheduled maintenance - in essence, by simply moving the rocket from its landing spot, refueling it and then putting it back out on the launchpad. It will be the first Bangladeshi communications satellite put into space.

One of the most significant changes is the use of stronger high-pressure helium tanks, known as composite overwrapped pressure vessels, or COPVs, that are submerged in the rocket's liquid oxygen propellant tanks.

A second stage COPV apparently ruptured during a pre-launch test September 1, 2016, triggering a catastrophic explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 and its satellite payload and heavily damaged the launch complex.

Reusing the rockets is a major cost-saving step for space travel.

The takeoff will be neat - the landing will be even neater than neat.

SpaceX has not yet announced what exactly triggered the automatic abort. "We tried to summarize all of these lessons learned into a booster that then is able to fly and be recovered and fly again multiple times without a lot of refurbishment".

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