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SpaceX launch for first Falcon 9 Block 5 set for Thursday evening

11 May 2018

A backup launch window opens on Friday, May 11 at 4:14 p.m. EDT, and closes at 6:21 p.m. EDT. Afterwards, the two-stage rocket's first stage will make an attempt to land on a drone ship off the Florida coast.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX will look to make yet another space-flight advancement Thursday when it attempts the first launch of its refurbished Falcon 9 rocket created to make it more durable for re-use in future missions.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 will deliver the Bangabandhu-1 communications satellite into orbit.

The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).

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The authorities concerned, including Bangladesh delegation and SpaceX, held a review meeting in NY over the launching preparation on Wednesday morning (local time). Regular refurbishing can allow the rocket to be reused dozens of times, making space travel more economical.

But spaceflight aficionados will mostly be gawking at a brand-new rocket carrying the payload: SpaceX's most powerful, most reusable, and possibly most affordable version of its Falcon 9 rocket to date, called Block 5 "full thrust".

Unlike all SpaceX missions in 2017 and 2018, the preflight fueling sequence will be very different. Bangladesh's launch is likely to start a price war in the region. A landing attempt will occur at 8 minutes and 10 seconds after launch, aboard the Of Course I Still Love You droneship.

State-owned Bangladesh Television (BTV) is also set to broadcast live the event. It will be the first Bangladeshi communications satellite put into space. It was designed and built by Thales Alenia Space with a lifetime service design of at least 15 years. The satellite is expected to bring Ku-band coverage to Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal in addition to surrounding countries. It will also provide C-band capacity for the entire region and will also enable broadband connectivity to rural areas throughout the Bangladesh.

SpaceX launch for first Falcon 9 Block 5 set for Thursday evening