May 9 (UPI) — SpaceX is ready for a couple more firsts.
The aeronautics outfit is preparing to launch the latest version of its Falcon 9 rocket, the Block 5 — the rocket’s most powerful iteration yet.
The new rocket model, upgraded to enhance reusability, will carry the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 into geostationary orbit. It will be the first Bangladeshi communications satellite put into space.
As usual, the Falcon 9 rocket will blast-off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Last week, the Block 5 rocket completed a successful static test fire, but it wasn’t clear when the launch would happen. On Monday, SpaceX tweeted that the Bangladeshi satellite would be carried into space on May 10.
The two-hour launch window will open at 4:12 p.m. ET. SpaceX will live stream the launch event.
The inaugural rocket is named after Bangladesh’s founding father, Sheikh Majibur Rahman, popularly known as Bangabandhu, which translates as “friend of Bengal.”
Unlike previous Falcon 9 rockets, the Block 5 is capable of being reused as many as 10 times with only inspections in-between each launch. Regular refurbishing can allow the rocket to be reused dozens of times, making space travel more economical.
“Block 5 basically summarizes all that we learned on reusability,” Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX, said during a news conference in April. “It’s a reliability upgrade that combines reliability and reusability.”
To improve the rocket’s reusability, engineers strengthened heat shields in numerous places and boosted engine thrust.
Engineers at SpaceX’s test facilities have been pushing spent rocket cores to the limits to identify the stress thresholds for the Falcon 9’s various components. The tests have helped engineers where tweaks, material reinforcement and new technologies are necessary.
“We are looking forward to reuse in the long term,” SpaceX’s Jessica Jensen said at a press conference. “It’s always good for us if we can get data that is sort of pushing the bounds.”