SpaceX launches ‘recycled’ Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket
Spacecraft takes off on second mission amid hopes of reusing it up to ten times
SpaceX has successfully relaunched its new Falcon 9 Block 5, marking the first re-flight of the firm’s latest rocket.
The recycled spacecraft lifted off from the Cape Canaveral space port in Florida at 1.18am (6.18am UK time), as part of a mission to deploy Telkom Indonesia’s Merah Putih communications satellite into orbit.
The satellite was ejected from the rocket’s payload bay 30 minutes into the flight. Meanwhile, the Falcon 9’s main booster stage, which is only used for blasting through Earth’s atmosphere, touched down on one of SpaceX’s drone ships, named “Of Course I Still Love You”, eight minutes after lift-off.
The Elon Musk-backed company aims to use the rocket “as many as ten or more times in a row, with little or no maintenance between launches”, says Mashable.
Block 5 models are significantly more durable than the firm’s previous Falcon 9 rockets, which were only capable of two launches as they sustained too much damage when re-entering the atmosphere, CNet says.
The Falcon 9 Block 5 made its maiden voyage in May, where it successfully delivered a Bangladeshi communications satellite before the main booster returned back to the Earth’s surface in one piece.
Today’s launch was SpaceX’s 15th so far this year, says Bloomberg. The company is aiming to complete a total of 30 launches in 2018, compared with 18 last year.