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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.

Cases: 256827

Reported Deaths: 5638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17331186
Hinds16373328
Harrison13731199
Rankin10854217
Jackson10557187
Lee8922141
Madison8335166
Jones6483112
Forrest6038120
Lauderdale5965187
Lowndes5425118
Lafayette503193
Lamar490865
Washington4826124
Bolivar4024109
Oktibbeha397681
Panola374680
Pontotoc369855
Monroe3591105
Warren3569100
Union348063
Marshall347769
Neshoba3413152
Pearl River3329103
Leflore3059107
Lincoln299386
Sunflower288271
Hancock282559
Tate274362
Alcorn267454
Itawamba265260
Pike264679
Scott250847
Prentiss248252
Yazoo247356
Tippah244450
Copiah243949
Coahoma242254
Simpson238368
Leake232966
Grenada220671
Covington215072
Marion215073
Adams207870
Wayne203232
Winston202667
George201939
Newton195044
Attala194659
Tishomingo191661
Chickasaw185744
Jasper174438
Holmes169168
Clay161335
Tallahatchie148235
Stone145921
Clarke141762
Calhoun137621
Smith122725
Yalobusha119134
Walthall112836
Noxubee111423
Greene111029
Montgomery110136
Carroll105321
Lawrence103217
Perry102831
Amite98826
Webster93924
Tunica87421
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis85827
Benton83323
Humphreys83324
Kemper78420
Quitman6969
Franklin67115
Choctaw61213
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55419
Sharkey44017
Issaquena1596
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 429655

Reported Deaths: 6283
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63040956
Mobile30794557
Madison27486201
Tuscaloosa20996268
Montgomery19352315
Shelby18833120
Baldwin16653184
Lee12749102
Morgan12389119
Etowah11861176
Calhoun11292201
Marshall10290113
Houston8746156
Limestone813276
Cullman8125106
Elmore7999104
DeKalb776599
Lauderdale768698
St. Clair7651121
Talladega6309108
Walker5954174
Jackson586341
Colbert539873
Blount537683
Autauga525755
Coffee450456
Dale402981
Franklin369948
Russell340711
Chilton338966
Covington332668
Escambia326043
Dallas308896
Chambers293170
Clarke287833
Tallapoosa2641107
Pike255230
Marion248953
Lawrence246649
Winston229535
Bibb218847
Geneva205446
Marengo202829
Pickens197531
Hale179542
Barbour176036
Fayette172928
Butler170858
Cherokee161930
Henry156523
Monroe149818
Randolph142135
Washington139126
Clay127645
Crenshaw121544
Cleburne119023
Lamar119021
Macon118637
Lowndes112036
Wilcox105121
Bullock101128
Perry99019
Conecuh95720
Sumter89626
Greene76623
Coosa61015
Choctaw51624
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