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GALLERY: SpaceX launches Bangabandhu-1 atop Block 5 Falcon 9

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The Block 5 Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engine thrust the vehicle and its payload off the launch pad. Photo Credit: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — With the Bangabandhu-1 satellite encapsulated on top, SpaceX launched its Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket into space. The company calls this the last major upgrade of the vehicle that first debuted in 2010. Liftoff took place at 4:14 p.m. EDT (20:14 GMT) May 11, 2018.

The Block 5 features a number of upgrades, including increased thrust, more thermal protection on the first stage to help with recovery and much more. SpaceX has said more than 100 changes have been made to the Falcon 9. Probably the most visible is the black interstage, landing legs and raceway (a protected path running down the side of the booster that contains cables and pipes). Moreover, the “octoweb,” the part at the base of the vehicle that houses the nine Merlin 1D engines, has been bolted on instead of welded, to allow for easier inspection.

“The key to Block 5 is that it’s designed to do 10 or more flights with no refurbishment between each flight—or at least not scheduled refurbishment between each flight,” said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk during a media conference call before the launch. “The only thing that needs to change is you reload propellant and fly again.”

Musk said he believes the Block 5 design is capable of at least 100 flights before being retired. In fact, he said SpaceX plans to launch a single Block 5 Falcon 9 twice within 24 hours sometime in 2019.

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The following photos were taken by Ryan Chylinski, Michael Howard, Michael Deep and Scott Schilke of SpaceFlight Insider’s visual team.

BANGABANDHU-1KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Hawthorne, California-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) launched the Bangabandhu-1 satellite atop the first Block 5 Falcon 9 to take to the skies. The flight got underway on Friday, May 11, 2018 from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The spacecraft has a planned mission life of approximately 15 years and is the first Bangladeshi geostationary communications satellite. The Bangabandhu-1 satellite is planned to be located at 119.1° East longitude geostationary slot. Photos courtesy: Michael Howard, Mike Deep, Scott Schilke, Ryan Chylinski

Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider

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