SpaceX Delays Launch Of Upgraded Rocket

Space X's Falcon 9 rocket

Space X's Falcon 9 rocket. BRUCE WEAVER AFP — Getty Images

SpaceX has delayed the launch of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 that was scheduled for Thursday, as less than a minute remained until the start of the countdown due to a technical glitch. It's the first time the county will send a communications satellite to this high of an orbit. SpaceX was commissioned by the government of Bangladesh to ferry the Bangabandhu 1 into space earlier this year.

SpaceX already already bumped a 4:12 p.m. launch time to 5:47 p.m.

"The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 mission will be the first to utilize Falcon 9 Block 5, the final substantial upgrade to SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle", said a SpaceX representative.

Last week, the Block 5 rocket completed a successful static test fire, but it wasn't clear when the launch would happen.

NASA will study this launch and the next half dozen launches of the Block 5 rocket before giving it's stamp of approval. Musk said Thursday that a launch on a reused Falcon 9 rocket is now about $50 million.

The next launch opportunity comes tomorrow (May 11) at 4:14 p.m. EDT (2014 GMT).

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Block 5 is meant to reach 10 or more re-flights without scheduled maintenance - in essence, by simply moving the rocket from its landing spot, refueling it and then putting it back out on the launchpad.

Stationed a couple hundred miles off Florida's east coast in the Atlantic Ocean, the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship will play host to the booster's landing attempt shortly after liftoff, bringing back the hardware that could fly more 10 times or more with light refurbishment. "It's a reliability upgrade that combines reliability and reusability". The satellite is expected to expand communication capabilities across Bangladesh and in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia. The helium is used to pressurize the propellant tanks and provide the muscle needed for steering.

Reusing the rockets is a major cost-saving step for space travel. The legs had to be removed in previous versions of the rocket before a recovered booster could be hauled away for post-flight processing.

The launch was halted after a last-minute automatic abort, Spaceflight Now reported.

This first Block 5 rocket, however, will go through "rigorous" testing and analysis and will not be re-flown for a couple of months, Musk said.

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