SpaceX launched its newest and most powerful Falcon 9 rocket, known as Block 5, which transports the first high-orbit communications satellite to Bangladesh and marks a breakthrough in reuse for the California-based aerospace company.
The rocket is designed to require much less maintenance and renewal between flights, and is certified to take humans into space later this year when SpaceX launches its Dragon crew capsule to the International Space Station.
“Three, two one, zero, ignition, takeoff,” said a SpaceX commentator when the rocket was launched at 4:14 pm (2014 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The main objective of the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket for its first mission was to propel a communications satellite for Bangladesh, called Bangabandhu Satellite-1, to a geostationary transfer orbit approximately 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) above the Earth.
“In the continuing advance of Bangladesh, another milestone is added today,” said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a video address broadcast on the SpaceX webcast.
“With the launch of Bangabandhu-1, we are raising our national flag to space.” The satellite will offer video and communications coverage of Bangladesh and its territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal, as well as in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia.
“The satellite will also provide broadband connectivity to rural areas throughout the country,” said a statement from SpaceX, noting that the mission is expected to last at least 15 years.
About half an hour after the launch, live images showed that the satellite was moving into the dark blackness of space, while shouts and screams broke out at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
“The successful deployment of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to the geostationary transfer orbit,” SpaceX said on Twitter. The launch was postponed at the last minute on Thursday, when an automatic abort switch was activated, but SpaceX said it was just a problem and the ship remained in good health.
The rocket is designed to fly again up to 10 times with minimal renewal, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told reporters before the launch.
“We hope that literally no action is taken between the flights, so like the planes,” said Musk, and described the many years of effort that got into the rocket as “crazy”. After takeoff, the rocket made a successful vertical landing on the warship “Of Course I Still Love You” parked in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the 25th successful touchdown for SpaceX.
SpaceX has now landed 11 of its propellers on land and 14 on its drones, which are floating platforms in the ocean, as part of its effort to reduce the cost of space flights and reuse expensive pieces of rockets.
The first launch of the crew for SpaceX is tentatively scheduled for December 2018.
It will be the first time since the end of the US space shuttle program. UU In 2011, a rocket has left the US territory, bringing people into space.