SpaceX Gears Up For ‘Historic Reuse’ Of Previously Flown ‘Block 5’ Falcon 9 Rocket

Joe RaedleGetty Images

Less than three months ago, on May 11, SpaceX inaugurated its upgraded “Block 5” Falcon 9 booster with the launch of Bangabandhu-1, Bangladesh’s first communications satellite, the Inquisitr reported at the time.

While two other “Block 5” boosters have lifted from the ground since then, the same booster will now be used for another satellite launch, scheduled to take place early next week.

The “Block 5” in question is booster 1046 (B1046), slated to take off on its second run on August 7, this time with Indonesian satellite Merah Putih on board.

After previously launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in May, B1046 returns to Florida for a launch form Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, notes Florida Today.

Teslarati calls it “historic reuse”, describing the August 7 launch as “an unexpectedly sudden inaugural reuse of the first highly reliable and reusable rocket to roll off of the Hawthorne, California, assembly line.”

As the media outlet points out, the refurbishment of B1046 only took 85 days to pull off, falling just two weeks short from breaking SpaceX’s booster turnaround record of 72 days, achieved with a “Block 4” booster.

Hot-Fire Test On Thursday

In preparation for Tuesday’s launch, SpaceX already conducted a static fire test of the booster’s nine Merlin engines on July 2, reports Spaceflight Now.

null

Ignited at around 12:45 p.m. EDT (16:45 GMT), the “Block 5’s” engines fired for several seconds, confirming they’re in top shape for next week’s big event.

“Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete — targeting August 7 launch of Merah Putih from Pad 40 in Florida,” SpaceX wrote on Twitter yesterday.

Present at the scene, Teslarati photographer Tom Cross snapped a few shots of the “Block 5” booster on the launch pad.

null

According to the sources, yesterday’s test included the verification of propellant late-load and launch abort procedures. Both are essential for all future missions of the “Block 5” booster, especially once SpaceX’s upgraded Falcon 9 rocket starts ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station next year on board its Crew Dragon capsule, as reported by the Inquisitr.

“With humans atop the rocket, a deep understanding of the vehicle’s behavior during a wide range of off-nominal scenarios is more critical than ever, be it required by NASA or simply a side effect of due diligence on behalf of SpaceX,” notes Teslarati with regards to the hot-fire test on Thursday.

Big Re-Launch On Tuesday

Next week’s event will see B1046 soar to the skies in the early hours of the morning, as the “Block 5” booster has a two-hour launch window that opens at 1:18 a.m. EDT (05:18 GMT).

The mission, the third Falcon 9 launch to take place over the last 16 days and the 15th rocket flight for SpaceX since the beginning of the year, aims to deliver the Merah Putih satellite into geostationary orbit.

Built by California-based SSL for PT Telkom Indonesia, the 12,800-pound (5,800 kilograms) satellite, formerly known as Telkom 4, is designed to provide communications services to the 17,000 islands of the Indonesian archipelago, reports Florida Today.

Soon after takeoff, B1046 is expected to perform an automated descent and land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship that SpaceX had stationed at Port Canaveral.

null

The last time the company has flown a “Block 5” booster was on July 25, when SpaceX delivered a payload of 10 Iridium satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, per Spaceflight Now.

Before that, another “Block 5” took off from Cape Canaveral on July 22, carrying Canada’s Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite, as reported by the Inquisitr.