Spaceflight Insider

VIDEO: SpaceX performs static fire test on Block 5 Falcon 9

The Falcon 9 Block 5 vehicle ignites its nine Merlin 1D engines for a brief three seconds to verify all is working properly. SpaceX will confirm a launch date for the Bangabandhu-1 mission after the company evaluates the test data. Photo Credit: Ryan Chylinski / SpaceFlight Insider

The Falcon 9 Block 5 vehicle ignites its nine Merlin 1D engines for a brief three seconds to verify all is working properly. SpaceX will confirm a launch date for the Bangabandhu-1 mission after the company evaluates the test data. Photo Credit: Ryan Chylinski / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX performed a static fire test on the Falcon 9 that will send the Bangabandhu-1 communications satellite into space. This is also the first Block 5 version of the rocket.

After rolling the vehicle up the ramp at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A the day before, SpaceX raised the rocket from the horizontal to vertical position in the early-morning hours of May 4, 2018. The three-second firing took place later in the day at 7:25 p.m. EDT (23:25 GMT), which was preceded by a full countdown sequence, including fully fueling the vehicle.

“Falcon 9 Block 5 static fire test complete ahead of next week’s launch of Bangladesh’s first geostationary communications satellite,” SpaceX confirmed via its Twitter account. “Vehicle is healthy. Data review will take a few days—will confirm a target launch date once that review is complete.”

The flight had been slated to launch as early as May 7, 2018. However, earlier in the week, media outlets in Bangladesh were reporting a likely delay. With SpaceX now stating the data review will take “a few days,” it stands to reason that a Monday liftoff is unlikely.

Regardless of when the mission gets off the ground, it will mark the inaugural flight of a Block 5 Falcon 9, which has a number of upgrades that increase the performance of the vehicle as well as enable rapid reusability, the company has said.

Ultimately, it is hoped that each Block 5 first stage could fly 10 times or more with refurbishment lasting only week between each flight. Right now, Block 3 and Block 4 first stage cores require several months of refurbishment work before they are ready to fly and are only being reused once.

Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider

 

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Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite. Richardson joined our team shortly thereafter. His passion for space ignited when he watched Space Shuttle Discovery launch into space Oct. 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized his true calling was communicating to others about space. Since joining SpaceFlight Insider in 2015, Richardson has worked to increase the quality of our content, eventually becoming our managing editor. @TheSpaceWriter

Reader Comments

Exciting times for space access! We can finally see what an early stage reusable rocket might be like (I count Blocks 1-4 as experimental). Fingers crossed that they can get the turnaround of this version down to at a week or two. I know the goal is 24 hours but that seems very aggressive for something that is only meant to fly 10 times maximum. It would be amazing if they managed to do the above with Block 5 but my guess is that we’ll have to wait for the BFR with the targeted durability of 100 reuses (less degradation per flight so fewer adjustments before re-flight?).

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