SpaceX to launch 'Falcon 9 Block 5' on Thursday

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On Thursday evening, SpaceX - the rocket company founded by Elon Musk - plans to launch Bangabandhu-1, which is slated to be Bangladesh's first geostationary communications satellite.

The launch window opens at 4:12 p.m. EDT and runs until 6:22 p.m. EDT (2222 GMT). Block 5 first stages, however, are created to fly 10 times with just inspections between landing and liftoff, and 100 times with some refurbishment involved, SpaceX representatives have said.

Enhanced rocket reusability also is a core tenant of Musk's broader objectives for normalizing space travel and ultimately sending humans to Mars. Weather conditions are forecast to be 80 percent go.

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SpaceX said the block 5 model is "designed to be capable of 10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment" and is the last upgrade to its Falcon 9 series as it looks to focus on its deep-space rocket, the BFR.

The first version of the Falcon 9 flew in 2010 as part of a NASA program designed to create a commercial cargo service to the space station, after the space shuttle program was cancelled for being too costly, complex and ultimately unsafe.

The upgrades are all created to make Falcon 9 rockets, which SpaceX has already been recovering and using multiple times to cut costs on future missions, even more durable.

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SpaceX also plans to use the Falcon Heavy to launch an Arabsat satellite built by Lockheed Martin (LMT) sometime at the end of the year, marking its second mission for a paying customer. Thrust from its 27 engines is equivalent to 18 Boeing (BA) 747s, making it two times more powerful than any other rocket operating today, according to SpaceX.

Among the reusability upgrades are an improved heat shield, extra thermal protection coating to limit re-entry heating damage and a set of retractable landing legs for rapid recovery and shipping, which will help cut the turnaround time for launches.

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