India will now face competition for the first time as Bangladesh launches its first communication satellite today using an upgraded version of the Falcon-9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.
In a tweet, SpaceX said the rocket and its payload - a geostationary communications satellite for the government of Bangladesh - are in "good health" and that the launch will be attempted Friday after 1:14 p.m.
Unlike previous Falcon 9 rockets, the Block 5 is capable of being reused up to 10 times with only inspections in between each launch. But first it needs at least 7 successful launches before NASA will approve the rocket for human cargo. Weather conditions are forecast to be 80 percent go.
The "block 5" version of the craft features a number of design changes the company claims will improve performance and safety.
SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets.
When that happens, it will mark the first time since the end of the U.S. space shuttle program in 2011 that a rocket has launched from the United States carrying people to space.
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On board the rocket is the country of Bangladesh's first communications satellite. The Block 5, however, is created to fly up to 100 times, although this will involve some refurbishment and inspections after every 10 flights. SpaceX has re-launched 11 first stage boosters to date, but none have flown more than twice.
The Falcon 9 rocket Block 5 will be the first true test of SpaceX's reusable spacecraft.
A Super Heavy Lift Vehicle for the global community clocking in at a price point of under $100 million United States dollars is already an incredible achievement (the Falcon Heavy's base price - with all brand new stages - is already just $90 million USD), and Elon's statement regarding a fully reusable Falcon Heavy price point provides some indication of the potential reduction in cost the Block 5 upgrade brings to the launch market.
Ten flights of an individual booster would be hugely significant, as SpaceX has thus far only ever reused each of its Falcon 9 rockets a single time.
'Block 5 is being qualified for 10+ flights, but we'll continue to expand for more, ' Lambert said.