SpaceX launches new rocket primed for future crewed missions

While the Block 5 rocket launch did not carry a crew, a crew-carrying version could launch as early as this year.

"Successful deployment of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to geostationary transfer orbit", SpaceX said on Twitter.

SpaceX lifted Bangladesh's first satellite into orbit Friday using an upgraded rocket designed for dozens of repeat flights including back-to-back, same-day launches.

Friday's launch occurred at 1:14 p.m. California time.

An updated version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, tailored for eventual crewed missions for NASA, made its debut launch on Friday from Florida's Cape Canaveral carrying a communications satellite for Bangladesh into orbit.

After pushing the satellite and Falcon 9's upper stage out of the Earth's lower atmosphere, the booster will return to land on the SpaceX autonomous ship in the Atlantic about 8 minutes after liftoff.

It will mark the first time since the end of the USA space shuttle program in 2011 that a rocket has left USA soil carrying people to space.

The debut mission will launch Bangabandhu Satellite-1, a telecommunications satellite for the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

Since then, the U.S. government has been forced to rely on Russian Federation to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

For this new model, SpaceX enhanced engine performance, strengthened various parts of the rocket and improved the landing gear system. "The rocket and payload are in good health - the team is striving for a backup transmitter tomorrow". The new version of the rocket is outfitted with upgrades created to make it more durable so it can be reused as many as 10 times, dramatically cutting the costs of space missions. But in the eight-year history of flying Falcon 9 rockets, SpaceX has only ever sent the same rocket to space twice.

He said the marginal cost of a orbital rocket launch could eventually fall to a slim fraction of that figure, but he cautioned that SpaceX still had to cover fixed costs.

"The satellite will also provide broadband connectivity to rural areas throughout the country", said a SpaceX statement, noting that the mission is expected to last at least 15 years.

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