Sci-tech

SpaceX launches its newest Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX launches its newest Falcon 9 rocket

But the countdown came to an abrupt halt with less than a minute remaining. In total, Falcon 9 rockets have made more than 50 trips to space over the past eight years.

But Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and chief executive, has never been shy about setting bold goals. The new version of the rocket is outfitted with upgrades created to make it more durable so it can be reused as many as 10 times, dramatically cutting the costs of space missions.

"We intend to demonstrate two orbital launches of the same Falcon 9 vehicle within 24 hours no later than next year", Musk said May 10 during a call with reporters.

SpaceX has landed and reflown boosters many times before.

SpaceX lifted Bangladesh's first satellite into orbit Friday using an upgraded rocket designed for dozens of repeat flights including back-to-back, same-day launches.

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"We expect there would be literally no action taken between flights, so just like aircraft", Musk said, describing the many years of effort that went into the rocket as "crazy hard".

The Block 5 variation of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will be the last major upgrade the company's workhorse rocket.

The debut mission will launch Bangabandhu Satellite-1, a telecommunications satellite for the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

Though the Falcon 9 Block 5 was designed with human spaceflight in mind, NASA will require seven successful flights of the Block 5, with no significant changes to the rocket's configuration, before allowing humans on board.

After pushing the satellite and Falcon 9's upper stage out of the Earth's lower atmosphere, the booster will return to land on the SpaceX autonomous ship in the Atlantic about 8 minutes after liftoff.

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As for the problems with the launch attempt on Thursday, SpaceX did not say much.

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.

Musk said SpaceX won't attempt fairing recovery on the Bangabandhu-1 mission, but is intent on saving the $6 million protective shrouds in the future.

The first crew launch for SpaceX is tentatively planned for December 2018.

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