SpaceX Aims for Its 11th Launch This Year, But This Falcon 9 Is Different

Time to get rid of the old rockets. 


SpaceX will conduct another launch on Monday, which is nothing new at all considering this is the 11th one for the space company so far this year. What is new — or rather a bit of old and new — is the version of the Falcon 9 it will use for the launch.

Monday’s early morning launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, will make use of a Falcon 9 rocket that has newer and older parts. The Block 4 will be used to clear the first stage of the mission and will mark the final usage of the particular rocket. For the second stage, the Falcon 9 will be powered by the brand new Block 5, which will have a slew of upgrades over the previous version including improvement on thrust and reusability.

The payload for Monday’s mission is the SES-12 communications satellite. Manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space, the satellite will be put in geosynchronous orbit to provide data services to Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. It will replace the NSS-6 satellite.

In early May, SpaceX successfully launched its first Falcon 9 using the Block 5. The latest version “is designed to be capable of ten or more flights with very limited refurbishment.” This will help to reduce the costs per launch even further.

The Falcon 9’s four-hour launch window starts at 12:29 a.m. Eastern on Monday. The official SpaceX Twitter account tweeted the weather is 70 percent favorable for the launch. It will not send out the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship to recover the Block 4. It will be live streamed on the SpaceX website.

On Thursday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk started a little spat and this time it wasn’t with the media. When Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said his company would be the first to Mars, Musk replied back with a simple, “do it.”

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