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SpaceX's upgraded rocket soars with satellite for Bangladesh
16 May 2018, 12:29 | Brandon Parsons
The first launch of a heavy rocket the Falcon 9 version Block 5 was held on 11 may 2018
While the first Block 5 Falcon 9 launch was a major event in and of itself, it was also responsible for carrying the first satellite for the government of Bangladesh - Bangabandhu Satellite-1 - into orbit. "I hope fate doesn't punish me for these words, but that is unequivocally the intent. And I believe our most conservative consumers would agree with that".
Elon said that a last-minute hassle on May 10 postponed the Block 5 Falcon 9's debut launch 24 hours to May 11. SpaceX blamed "a basic ground system vehicle abort" for stopping the countdown 58 seconds prior to liftoff.
SpaceX traced the cause to liquid oxygen in the upper phase tank that got caught in between the COPV overwrap and liner and sparked either from friction or other systems. Following stage separation, Falcon 9's first stage successfully landed on "Of Course I Still Love You", SpaceX's droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. "It is nuts. I have personally gone across the layout; I can not count how many occasions". The top engineering minds at SpaceX have agonized over this ... "I believe we're in a fantastic situation".
Musk said the COPVs now have a burst pressure "more than twice what they are actually loaded to on the pad".
"The word "block" is a little unusual. We kind of embraced it in the Russians", he explained.
The Block 5's first stage now have an 8 percent thrust increase at sea level producing a total 1,710,000 pounds force, with each of the nine Merlin 1D engines producing 190,000 pounds force. The only vacuum-optimized Merlin engine Falcon 9's second point includes a 5% push growth to 220,000 pounds-force, " he explained. This launch will be flown by the first "Block 5" booster, the 7th and final iteration of the Falcon 9. Those changes may make engineers easier to refurbish its first stages for more flights.
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According to SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk, the Block 5 is created to be "the most reliable rocket ever assembled". "Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm that it does not need to be taken apart", Musk told reporters on a call before the flight. "The secret to Block 5 is that it's developed to do 10 or more flights without any fix in between each flight".
Ironically, the first zero-maintenance rocket is going to have to be torn apart to prove that it can fly again without intervention. Up to 2019 SpaceX plans with the same first step run Block 5 two times within one day.
Musk said the Falcon 9's octaweb construction, used to encourage all nine first phase engines and supply compartmentalization if one or more neglects, is now much more powerful. The octaweb is made with bolted instead of bonded aluminum and has higher thermal security to prevent melting, he stated. Then the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) takes over & Falcon retires.
"Obviously, aesthetics are a minor factor in rocket design, but I still like the fact that we've returned for nostalgic reasons to having a black interstage", Musk said.
By keeping the Falcon 9 style fixed, SpaceX can commit more effort and time to its Huge Falcon Rocket and Starlink satellite constellation.
"SpaceX will probably build 30 to 40 rocket cores for 300 missions over 5 years".
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The airline added that it has switched the flight's passengers to another aircraft to carry on their journey to Lhasa. One other crew member was injured, but all passengers on the plane emerged unscathed, according to local reports.