SpaceX Successfully Launches Upgraded Falcon 9 Rocket

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched its more reusable rocket for the first time, a major step forward in reducing the cost of space flight. Called Bangabandhu-1, the satellite is riding into space on top of SpaceX's Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 launched the Bangladesh Communications Satellite Co.'s first orbital satellite, dubbed Bangabandhu-1, into orbit.

The latest version of the Falcon 9 will also be used to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and to hoist national security satellites into space, meaning input from NASA and the US military factored heavily into its design and development. The satellite will eventually travel to a path 22,000 miles above Earth, where it will provide telecommunications coverage for Bangladesh and surrounding areas. This is the most powerful version of the private space company's Falcon 9 rocket, one featuring upgrades that enhance its reusability. In total, Falcon 9 rockets have made more than 50 trips to space over the past eight years. The satellite was successfully deployed into geostationary transfer orbit; the Block 5, meanwhile, landed on SpaceX's "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship in the Atlantic.

Launch had originally been scheduled for the day before, but SpaceX's flight control computer triggered an abort sequence with less than a minute left in Thursday's countdown.

"This rocket is really be the most reliable rocket ever built", Musk said Thursday.

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. In theory, each Block 5 rocket could be used up to 100 times. "Ironically, we need to take it apart to prove that it does not need to be taken apart", he joked. NASA requires seven successful flights before the new rocket receives final certification for a manned mission.

Since then, the United States government has been forced to rely on Russian Federation to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station. 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.

The Block-5 also marks another milestone for Musk's California-based company.