SpaceX plans to launch on May 4 its updated Falcon 9 rocket from a launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to bring into orbit a Thales Alenia Space-built communications satellite for Bangladesh, Spaceflight Now reported Tuesday.
The rocket’s Block 5 configuration will take off to send into space the Bangabandhu 1 satellite designed to provide C– and Ku-band data relay and broadcast services across the Asian country and nearby regions.
The Block 5 iteration of the vehicle completed a final test firing of Merlin 1D engines at SpaceX’s site in Texas and is set to undergo a hold-down engine firing test on Monday, April 30.
“Block 5 basically summarizes all that we learned on reusability,” said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX.
“In this case, we tried to summarize all of these lessons learned into a booster that then is able to fly, and be recovered and fly again multiple times without a lot of refurbishment,” Koenigsmann added.
Upgrades to the Falcon 9 rocket include modifications designed to speed up recovery and reuse of first-stage boosters, integration of a new heat-shield material, use of new helium tanks and changes that seek to meet NASA’s human safety requirements.