CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/AP) — SpaceX has successfully launched a satellite for Bangladesh using an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket designed for dozens of repeat flights.
This latest version of the Falcon 9 blasted off Friday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center 4:14 pm – a day later than originally planned.
The Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, as the latest version is called, carried the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 into orbit. The satellite will provide TV, internet and other telecom services to Bangladesh and the surrounding region. It’s the first satellite belonging to Bangladesh. The communication satellite is named Bangabandhu-1 after the country’s founding father.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk says the improved first-stage boosters on the rocket can be reused more than 10 times — even 100 — and require little or no prep work. His goal is to launch the same booster twice within 24 hours, perhaps next year. That’s how the company intends to shave launch costs.
Watch Booster Land On Drone Ship Here:
After launch, the first-stage booster of the rocket detached and guided itself back to Earth, where it landed safely on a platform, or drone ship, in the ocean so it can be flown once again on a future mission.
SpaceX has landed and reflown boosters many times before. But in the eight-year history of flying Falcon 9 rockets, SpaceX has only ever sent the same rocket to space twice.
This trip did not carry astronauts. Though the Falcon 9 Block 5 was designed with human spaceflight in mind, NASA will require seven successful flights of the Block 5, with no significant changes to the rocket’s configuration, before allowing humans on board.
The United States has not flown humans to space since 2011. That was the final year of NASA’s Space Shuttle program.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.)