Bangladesh celebrates Bangabandhu Satellite-1 launch as its space ambitions take flight

Bangabandhu Satellite-1 Mission

Bangabandhu Satellite-1 Mission

NASA will require seven successful flights of the Falcon 9 Block 5 before flying astronauts on the rocket.

The highly-anticipated launch of the "Block 5" Falcon 9 rocket finally took place today, marking the debut of SpaceX's Bangabandhu Satellite-1 mission.

The Bangabandhu Satellite-1, which will provide broadband connectivity to rural areas throughout the country, deployed about half an hour after the launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The latest version of the Falcon 9 has around 100 upgrades, and includes a recoverable booster that is created to be reused at least 10 times, allowing more frequent launches at lower cost - a key to billionaire Elon Musk's business model. The much-awaited launch had to be pushed back nearly 24 hours, until the next launching opportunity became available.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, taking the first Bangladesh communications satellite up into the Earth's orbit. Although SpaceX has never fully divulged manufacturing costs, experts have estimated that the first stage of the rocket alone can cost up to $40 million.

The rocket's first stage was successfully recovered, landing on the "Of Course I Still Love You" offshore droneship, about 8 minutes after the launch.

SpaceX marked the moment with another photo shared by the company's Twitter account.

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Space X tweeted: "Successful deployment of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to geostationary transfer orbit confirmed".

Named after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of Bangladesh who was assassinated in 1975, the spacecraft will provide data services during a 15-year mission.

The achievement was hailed by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a livestream appearance from her country's capital, Dhaka.

The "Block 5" is the newest version of the Falcon 9 rocket and also the last one that SpaceX will ever produce. "In the future, it will certainly appear unusual that we utilized to collapse rockets right into the sea as opposed to recycling them", Musk included. Starting in 2017, previously-flown first-stage boosters were reused to launch new payloads into orbit.

After launch, the mission achieved a quick succession: a first stage engine cutoff followed by a stage separation, and then a second stage burn and fairing release.

Its engines have up to eight percent more thrust than its predecessors, the flight controls allow for a better angle of attack to conserve fuel, there is a heat shield at the base of the rocket to protect it during reentry, and the guidance vanes are now made of titanium for better heat resistance.

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