SpaceX Bangabandhu Satellite-1 Mission set for Thursday launch

The satellite was scheduled to be launched by a Falcon-9 rocket of SpaceX in Florida between 1:37am and 4:22am Bangladesh time. Now targeting liftoff at 4:42 p.m. EDT, 20:42 UTC - vehicle and payload look good, completing final check outs at the pad.

The next launch opportunity at Cape Canaveral, Florida opens Friday, with a slightly more than two-hour window starting at opening at 4:14 pm (2014 GMT) and ending at 6:21 pm.

The fun doesn't end with takeoff.

Elon Musk, the founder, CEO and lead designer of SpaceX, said the Block 5's engines produce a thrust that is 7 to 8 percent stronger than the Falcon 9's. For Musk, rocket reusability is the key to SpaceX's long-term ambition of colonizing Mars. Going into Thursday's launch, SpaceX's landing record stood at 24 successful booster recoveries, 12 on land and 12 on droneships. The company hopes to be able to fly each Block 5 first stage 10 times before significant refurbishment is required.

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Engineers have steadily improved the rocket over time, making it taller, shaving unnecessary weight, and giving the engines more power. The spacecraft will provide a variety of broadcast and communications services to residents of the densely populated South Asian nation, according to French company Thales Alenia Space, which built Bangabandhu 1.

The latest changes to the Falcon 9 have been mainly driven by the need to meet NASA's requirements for its Commercial Crew Program. This doesn't just mean the first stages of rockets; it means everything from the payload adapter to the grid fins should be reusable not once, but multiple times with minimal maintenance and turnaround time from one use to the next. In fact, rockets have to be disassembled and completely overhauled every time.

The intelligence satellite, built by Northrop Grumman Corp, failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, according to U.S. officials. Bangabandhu Satellite-1 will be deployed into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) approximately 33 minutes after launch.

With just under one minute left on the countdown, SpaceX's new Block 5 Falcon 9 was stalled by an auto-abort sequence.


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