SpaceX launches updated Falcon 9 carrying Bangladesh's BangaBandhu satellite

Its recoverable main-stage booster is created to be reused at least 10 times with minimal refurbishment between flights, allowing more frequent launches at lower cost - a key to the SpaceX business model.

SpaceX successfully launched its upgraded "Block 5" Falcon 9 rocket Friday afternoon, carrying Bangladesh's first satellite into orbit.

For this week's flight of the new Falcon 9, SpaceX will be launching the Bangladeshi government's first satellite, Bangabandhu-1, into Earth orbit.

The launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center opens with a two-hour window at 4:14 p.m. The satellite was successfully deployed into geostationary transfer orbit; the Block 5, meanwhile, landed on SpaceX's "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship in the Atlantic.

The rocket is built to re-fly up to 10 times with minimal refurbishment, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told reporters ahead of the launch.

The Falcon 9 Block-5 comes equipped with about 100 upgrades for greater power, safety and reusability than its Block-4 predecessor. The communication satellite is named Bangabandhu-1 after the country's founding father. "Ironically, we need to take it apart to prove that it does not need to be taken apart", he joked. Going forward, competition from other companies and advancements in reusable rocket technology will likely help drive down costs even further, and that's incredibly exciting. The spaceship portion of the BFR system could begin short-hop testing, similar to the Falcon 9's early Grasshopper test flights, as early as next year.

Enhanced rocket reusability also is a core tenet of Musk's broader objectives for normalizing space travel and ultimately sending humans to Mars. It is expected to be the first SpaceX vehicle to satisfy NASA's standards for its Commercial Crew Program to carry agency astronauts to the International Space Station. That's more than half of the estimated overall $62 million price of the Falcon 9, according to various trade publications.

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.

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