SpaceX launches its newest Falcon 9 rocket

A new version of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket that could eventually take astronauts to space took flight for the first ti...

Posted: May 12, 2018 1:32 PM
Updated: May 12, 2018 1:32 PM

A new version of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket that could eventually take astronauts to space took flight for the first time Friday.

Liftoff occurred around 4:14 pm ET out of Kennedy Space Center in Florida -- a day later than originally planned. The Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, as the latest version is called, carried the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 into orbit. The satellite will provide TV, internet and other telecom services to Bangladesh and the surrounding region.

After launch, the first-stage booster of the rocket detached and guided itself back to Earth, where it landed safely on a platform in the ocean so it can be flown once again on a future mission.

SpaceX has landed and reflown boosters many times before. But in the eight-year history of flying Falcon 9 rockets, SpaceX has only ever sent the same rocket to space twice.

Related: SpaceX to build Mars rocket at the Port of Los Angeles

The company says the Block 5 variant can be re-flown as many as 10 times and can be easily refurbished between launches, which would drastically reduce the cost of a single launch.

This trip, of course, did not carry astronauts. Though the Falcon 9 Block 5 was designed with human spaceflight in mind, NASA will require seven successful flights of the Block 5, with no significant changes to the rocket's configuration, before allowing humans on board.

The United States has not flown humans to space since 2011. That was the final year of NASA's Space Shuttle program.

Since then, the US government has been forced to rely on Russia to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

So, in 2014, NASA tapped SpaceX and Boeing to develop human-rated rockets and capsules that can ferry astronauts to the orbiting laboratory.

According to NASA's current estimates, Boeing could conduct its first crewed test flight in November, and SpaceX

Related: Elon Musk says Mars rocket will fly 'short flights' next year

The Block 5 variation of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will be the last major upgrade the company's workhorse rocket. In total, Falcon 9 rockets have made more than 50 trips to space over the past eight years.

After the inaugural launch of the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle in February, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the company will soon focus all of its engineering talent on building its Mars rocket, called BFR.

SpaceX has no plans to use its Falcon Heavy, currently the most powerful rocket in operation, to fly humans. But the monstrous rocket is slated to put a couple hefty satellites into orbit in the near future, according to the company's launch manifest.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35419

Reported Deaths: 1230
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds290851
DeSoto190019
Madison144638
Jones120349
Harrison113616
Rankin108715
Neshoba104577
Forrest99343
Lauderdale96381
Scott81915
Jackson77519
Washington72213
Copiah65315
Leake63520
Lee61222
Oktibbeha61128
Grenada5949
Warren59421
Holmes58641
Wayne56218
Yazoo5536
Lowndes54813
Lamar5347
Leflore53156
Lincoln52935
Pike49920
Lafayette4974
Sunflower4778
Monroe45635
Panola4486
Covington4355
Bolivar40518
Simpson3933
Attala38424
Newton37510
Tate35213
Adams35120
Pontotoc3466
Marion32712
Claiborne30111
Chickasaw29719
Winston29511
Pearl River28832
Noxubee2788
Jasper2776
Marshall2773
Walthall2627
Clay25811
Union25211
Smith24612
Clarke22325
Coahoma2226
Lawrence2092
Yalobusha2079
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18111
Montgomery1713
Calhoun1645
Humphreys16310
Itawamba1468
Tippah14511
Hancock14413
Webster13411
Jefferson1263
Tunica1233
Jefferson Davis1204
Prentiss1204
George1163
Greene11310
Amite1103
Alcorn1002
Quitman991
Wilkinson989
Tishomingo971
Perry874
Choctaw754
Stone742
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton460
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6433170
Mobile4753139
Montgomery4430112
Tuscaloosa263253
Madison21199
Marshall192611
Shelby164225
Lee157237
Morgan12695
Baldwin120711
Walker106131
Elmore102920
Dallas9969
Etowah95114
DeKalb9417
Franklin93216
Autauga67614
Russell6750
Chambers67427
Unassigned65328
Butler65129
Tallapoosa62869
Limestone6223
Houston5857
Cullman5716
Lauderdale5686
St. Clair5133
Colbert4956
Calhoun4905
Lowndes48122
Escambia4808
Pike4725
Coffee4244
Jackson4182
Covington41412
Barbour3942
Dale3911
Talladega3897
Bullock37710
Marengo35211
Hale34823
Chilton3232
Clarke3126
Wilcox3038
Blount2961
Winston2965
Sumter29113
Marion27514
Pickens2696
Randolph2589
Monroe2553
Perry2362
Conecuh2308
Bibb2211
Macon2159
Choctaw21212
Greene1959
Henry1533
Washington1418
Crenshaw1273
Lawrence1250
Cherokee1237
Geneva960
Lamar871
Clay852
Fayette821
Coosa651
Cleburne421
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 93°
Columbus
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 93°
Oxford
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
Starkville
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 85°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather