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Improved Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket debuts

16 May 2018

Not only will this allow SpaceX to finally fly astronauts to the International Space Station, this design freeze will also allow SpaceX to focus its resources and production space on the BFR, an enormous interplanetary spaceship SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, envisions will fly in the early 2020s. "I hope fate does not penalize me for these words, however that is unquestionably the intent. And I believe our conservative clients would concur with this".

In the prelaunch conference, Elon Musk said that his company has the plan to reuse Block 5 within 24 hours. SpaceX blamed "a basic ground system auto abort" for stopping the countdown 58 seconds prior to liftoff. During last week's mission, it carried into space the Bangabandhu, Bangladesh's first communications satellite. The helium tanks were ruptured in a pre-launch test on September 1, 2016, causing an explosion. SpaceX has since worked to redesign those pressure vessels in support with NASA in order to address the agency's concerns about using that design on later Falcon 9 commercial crew launches.

"This is unquestionably the most innovative pressure vessel developed by humankind", Musk said. "It's nuts. I have actually personally reviewed the style; I can not count the number of times". The very best technology minds at SpaceX have agonized over this ... "I think we are in a good situation".

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"The term "block" is a little odd".

SpaceX engineers may squeeze another 2 percentage of extra thrust from their very first phase, plus another 5 percent from this next stage in comparison with Block 4, " he explained.

The single vacuum-optimized Merlin engine on Falcon 9's second stage has a 5 percent thrust increase to 220,000 pounds-force, he said. The Merlin engines on that first version had 95,000 pounds of thrust for each first-stage engine and 92,500 pounds of thrust for the second-stage engine.

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Musk stated the each of the 9 Merlin engines utilized to power the Falcon 9's first stage now have an 8 percent boost in thrust at sea level to 190,000 pounds-force. "The secret to Block 5 is the fact that it is meant to perform 10 or more flights without a refurbishment between every flight".

Ironically, the first zero-maintenance rocket is going to have to be torn apart to prove that it can fly again without intervention.

Indeed, the Block 5 first stage is created to fly 10 times with just inspections between landing and liftoff, and perhaps 100 times or more with some maintenance work involved, Musk said. Originally scheduled to launch on Thursday, May 10th at 5:47 PM EST, the newest iteration of SpaceX's venerable Falcon 9 rocket has had its launch scrubbed due to a pad anomaly. Additionally, it is designed for simpler manufacturing.

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"Obviously, aesthetics are a minor factor in rocket design, but I still like the fact that we've returned for nostalgic reasons to having a black interstage", Musk said.

Improved Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket debuts