SpaceX is about to test its new rocket for astronauts

SpaceX is about to test its new rocket for astronauts

SpaceX is about to test its new rocket for astronauts

SpaceX will attempt to launch an upgraded version of its Falcon 9 rocket Thursdayafternoon from Space Coast.

"The vehicle and payload are in good health", said a SpaceX spokesman.

The rocket was set to carry the Bangabandhu satellite-1, the first satellite for Bangladesh, into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The satellite is expected to expand communication capabilities across Bangladesh and in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia. Previous ones included Turkmenistan's TurkmenAlem satellite in April 2015 and Bulgaria's Bulgariasat-1 in June 2017.

FUN FACTS: With this launch, Bangladesh will be the 57th country with a geostationary communication satellite in space, orbiting our Earth.

Other changes include improved heat shield insulation at the base of the rocket, a tougher "octaweb" first stage engine mounting framework, redesigned turbopump machinery to minimize or eliminate small cracks in critical components and improved insulation in other areas of the rocket. Although SpaceX has never fully divulged manufacturing costs, experts have estimated that the first stage of the rocket can cost up to $40 million alone. The hope is that the Block 5 will be able to lift off 10 times, with just inspections between landing and launch, and up to 100 times with occasional refurbishment.

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SpaceX hasn't released official specifications for its Block 5 rockets yet, but it has shared some information about improvements to this generation's reusability and reliability.

The Block 5 is the last in the line of planned Falcon 9 upgrades, and as SpaceX notes, it's really the ultimate version of the Falcon 9 platform. But first it needs at least 7 successful launches before NASA will approve the rocket for human cargo.

SpaceX recently got a permit to begin constructing the first BFR spaceships in the Port of Los Angeles, about a dozen miles south of the company's headquarters.

This is the third satellite that SpaceX will have aided in launching. Liftoff is targeted for 5:47 p.m. EDT, or 21:47 UTC.

Current weather reports suggest the mission has an 80% chance of lifting off, and SpaceX has a window of about two hours to launch the mission.

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