Early this morning SpaceX completed their 13th launch of the year with the successful deployment of the Telstar 19V satellite to its Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).
This was the 2nd flight of the new Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 and was also the heaviest payload SpaceX has deployed to GTO weighing in at 15,600 lbs.
The first stage successfully landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) making this the 26th time a first stage has landed.
This was the 57th flight for Falcon 9 and 63rd in total for SpaceX.
Their next launch is just three days away on the 25th when another Block 5 booster will carry another 10 Iridium Next satellites to orbit from SpaceX’s Vandenberg launch site.
SpaceX continued its 2018 launch campaign with the successful launch of the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 aboard its first Block 5 Falcon 9.
The Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 has been designated as the final version and incorporates a number of changes designed to allow multiple flights to be performed by each booster with minimal to no changes needed. During a conference call today Elon Musk explained that the changes also addressed all of NASA Crew requirements.
The most obvious visual changes are the black interchange at the top of the first stage, the larger landing legs, which are now retractable. Other changes that have been detailed include upgraded Engines to address a cracking issue in the turbopump blades and also increases the thrust by 8%, new Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel (COPV) tanks.
With this launch, SpaceX returned to fast fueling process with both the RP-1 and LOX loading starting at T-35m. This was the process was in use when the AMOS-6 incident happened, SpaceX stopped using it after that until now.
After successfully completing its job of boosting the rocket towards orbit the first stage successfully landing on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean.
This was the 9th launch of 2018 and 54th overall for Falcon 9, and the 5th landing of 2018 and 25th overall.