SpaceX to debut upgraded Falcon 9 rocket

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The rocket's onboard computers halted the countdown about one minute before the newly minted Block-5 edition of the Falcon 9 was set to blast off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on its maiden mission, to carry a communications satellite into orbit for Bangladesh.

Now targeting liftoff at 4:42 p.m. EDT, 20:42 UTC - vehicle and payload look good, completing final check outs at the pad.

The Falcon 9 rocket Block 5 will be the first true test of SpaceX's reusable spacecraft.

SpaceX is set to debut the latest and most advanced version yet of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, called the Block 5, on Thursday.

The fun doesn't end with takeoff.

SpaceX launch livestream watch online
SPACEXSpaceX launch A Falcon 9 rocket will deliver a communications satellite into orbit tonight

After the first ten flights, Block 5 rockets will be refurbished.

If the launch goes as planned, it will be a promising sign for SpaceX's wider plan of conducting manned missions with rockets that can be reused up to 100 times in a single lifespan. The purpose-built reliable and reusable vehicle is further meant to be capable of as many as ten launches with "literally no action taken between flights", a "ridiculously hard" technological achievement only possible through a decade and a half of "extreme effort". The new Block 5 would change that; it would require little work between flights aside from inspections, refueling, attaching the payload and fairing. Standing at more than 250 feet tall, the new rocket system is 40 percent bigger than the initial Falcon 9 launched back in 2010.

The Block 5 features a number of upgrades that should increase the rocket's reliability and reusability, SpaceX reports.

"Block 5 basically summarizes all that we learned on reusability", Hans Koenigsmann, a senior SpaceX manager, told reporters before a launch last month. Just over eight minutes after lift-off, the first stage of the rocket will attempt to land on an autonomous drone ship floating more than three hundred miles off the Atlantic coast.

"With this historical first satellite, Bangladesh inhabitants will have access to a wide range of broadcast and communications services", Thales Alenia Space, the company that designed and built the satellite, said in a statement. "Block 5 is created to be capable of 10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment", the company explains, on its website.

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