SpaceX’s first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, sporting changes to make the booster easier to reuse, rolled out of its hangar and up the ramp to launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday ahead of a planned hold-down engine firing.
The two-stage rocket, revealed for the first time Thursday, features black landing legs and a black interstage, and additional thermal shielding around the base of the booster to protect components from high temperatures during re-entry and landing. The rocket will loft the Bangabandhu 1 communications satellite, Bangladesh’s first telecom spacecraft, no earlier than Monday. But the launch could be delayed later next week.
The hold-down firing could occur as soon as Friday, after the SpaceX launch team oversees an automated process to fuel the Falcon 9 with kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants. The first stage’s nine Merlin engines will ignite for several seconds while restraints keep the booster firmly on the ground.
Spaceflight Now Members can watch a live view of pad 39A as the Falcon 9 rocket prepares for the static fire test. If you’re not a member, please consider joining to support our coverage and receive access to exclusive content.
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