The first payload to launch on SpaceX's debut Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket will be Bangabandhu Satellite-1, the first communications satellite for the country of Bangladesh. The Block 5 is the most powerful (and ostensibly most recyclable) version of SpaceX's Falcon 9, the private space company's flagship rocket.
But an automatic abort was triggered just 58 seconds before the planned liftoff time of 5:47 p.m. EDT (2147 GMT), and SpaceX couldn't diagnose and fix the issue before the launch window closed at 6:22 p.m. EDT (2222 GMT).
SpaceX is taking extra precautions with this flight. SpaceX will target another launch attempt Friday starting at 4:14 p.m. Standing at more than 250 feet tall, the new rocket system is 40 percent bigger than the initial Falcon 9 launched back in 2010. As such, Block 5 rockets have been created to conform to NASA's crew-carrying requirements. He said he expected "substantial re-flight" of Block 5 rockets later this year, with some boosters flying three or four times.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk says NASA is keeping a close eye on the launch and the agency asked the company to over-engineer the rocket to make it safe for humans. Once in orbit and checked out by Thales, the satellite will be operated by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. SpaceX has re-launched 11 first stage boosters to date, but none have flown more than twice. The helium is used to pressurize the propellant tanks and provide the muscle needed for steering.
Consequently, reusability is already saving customers large sums of money and ensuring that Falcon 9 remains the absolute cheapest vehicle for the performance, a trend Musk indicated would continue for the indefinite future as SpaceX decreases costs, expands and improves reusability, and recoups a satisfactory proportion of their investments.
Musk said the previous version of the Falcon 9 could be refurbished in about 10 days if necessary, but that preparing it for upward of 10 uses would have required a "fair amount of work between each flight".
"Block 5 basically summarizes all that we learned on reusability", Hans Koenigsmann, a senior SpaceX manager, told reporters before a launch last month. "That's basically the key thing on block 5".