Update #2: With just under one minute left on the countdown, SpaceX’s new Block 5 Falcon 9 was stalled by an auto-abort sequence. After failing to determine the reason for the abort, SpaceX delayed the launch by 24 hours. The next attempt is scheduled to take place on Friday, May 11, at 4:14 PM EST.
Update: Takeoff has been pushed back to 5.47pm EDT, but prospects for launch are looking good.
New T-0 of 5:47 p.m. EDT—vehicle and payload continue to look good for today’s first flight of Falcon 9 Block 5.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 10, 2018
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is readying for the debut launch of the fifth and final version of its Falcon 9 rocket this afternoon, May 10. The launch will take place today at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and will carry Bangladesh’s first satellite, Bangabandhu-1, into Geostationary Transfer Orbit. This satellite aims to provide broadcast and communications services to citizens in Bangladesh.
At present, liftoff is scheduled to commence at 16:12 EDT (13.12 PT). Best of all? Even if you can’t make it to Florida in the next few hours, you can still watch the liftoff live from SpaceX’s website.
This is the third satellite that SpaceX will have aided in launching. Previous ones included Turkmenistan’s TurkmenAlem satellite in April 2015 and Bulgaria’s Bulgariasat-1 in June 2017. In total, more than 50 of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets have been launched to date. In the process, they have carried thousands of pounds of cargo.
SpaceX hasn’t released official specifications for its Block 5 rockets yet, but it has shared some information about improvements to this generation’s reusability and reliability. While the first stage of the Block 4 Falcon 9 was limited to just a couple of launches, the first stage of a Block 5 rocket can reportedly lift off a total of 10 times — with the possibility of this being further extended to a massive 100 times with regular refurbishment.
After the March 2017 launch of a previous Falcon 9 rocket, Elon Musk said that, “The most important part of Block 5 will be operating the engines at their full thrust capability, which is about 7 or 8 percent — almost 10 percent — more than what they currently run at.”
While today’s Block 5 rocket launch will not carry a crew, a crew-carrying version could launch as early as this year. As such, Block 5 rockets have been designed to conform to NASA’s crew-carrying requirements. They will eventually be used to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
We’d be remiss if we didn’t note there’s always the possibility of last-minute delays. Nonetheless, at present things are looking promising for today’s launch. There is an 80 percent probability of acceptable weather conditions. In all, the rocket has a 130-minute launch window. Our fingers are firmly crossed for some exciting updates later today!