Early Sunday morning, SpaceX will launch its second Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket – the latest and most powerful version of the vehicle the company plans to build. After launch, SpaceX will attempt to land the vehicle on one of its autonomous drone vessels in the Atlantic. And landings should now become routine, as all SpaceX missions will now use Block 5.
The Falcon 9 Block 5 is optimized for fast reusability, according to the company. It has a number of enhancements that make it easier to land after takeoff, as well as upgrades that minimize the need for missile remediation between flights. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claims Block 5 would not need major renovations for its first 1
SpaceX brought the first block 5 on the market May, so as a communication satellite for Bangladesh to send to orbit. Since then, he has mainly launched the previous version of the rocket, the block 4, and decided not to recover these vehicles after takeoff. They had all flown into space and were back once before. The blocks 4s can be reused only a few times, and SpaceX has probably deleted them full-time before moving to block 5.
Although Block 5 is SpaceX's latest upgrade for the Falcon 9, there are some of the improvements the company needs to make. Above all, SpaceX needs to add some upgraded helium tanks to the vehicle, which are needed to pressurize the rocket during the flight. And these must be added before SpaceX can launch people on this rocket for the first time.
This is because block 5 is the vehicle SpaceX will use to launch NASA astronauts on the International Space Station as part of the space agency's commercial crew program. And NASA demands that SpaceX launch Block 5 at least seven times in its final "crew configuration" before people can board. But the first Block 5 flight did not contain these upgraded helium tanks, so technically it did not count on this seven-flight requirement. Once these tanks are added, the rocket is in their crew layout. SpaceX says the first flight with the tanks will be its unmanned demonstration flight for Commercial Crew when the company sends an empty crew capsule to the International Space Station.
Meanwhile, SpaceX will continue to block 5s for the foreseeable future without major upgrades. Tomorrow's rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., And bring the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite into high orbit for the Canadian company Telesat. There is a 60 percent chance that the weather will be favorable for takeoff, according to the 45th Space Wing, which monitors launches off the Florida coast. The launch is scheduled to be between 1:50 AM ET and 5:50 AM ET for some time, with SpaceX reporting starting approximately 15 minutes before the start. If you're traveling at the same time, make sure you start another SpaceX take-off and landing combination.