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.