Liftoff for SpaceX's Block 5!
SpaceX debuted the new version of its Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Block 5, on May 11, 2018, with a flawless satellite launch and first-stage landing on a ship at sea. See pictures of the booster and the spaceflight action here. Read our full launch story for the mission here!
Supersonic Vapor Cone
SpaceX's first Falcon 9 Block 5 forms a vapor cone as it goes supersonic during its debut launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 11, 2018. You can read more about the phenomenon here.
A Maiden Launch
SpaceX's first Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from NASA's Pad 39A at 4:14 p.m. EDT (2014 GMT) on May 11, 2018.
An Upgraded Look
The Block 5 Falcon 9 includes a black interstage (between the first and second stages) giving it a different look than the previously all-white Falcon 9 rockets.
Launching with NASA
SpaceX's Block 5 Falcon 9 made its first flight from NASA's historic Launch Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center. The pad was previously used by NASA to launch space shuttle missions and Apollo moonshots.
SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket includes many upgrades over its Block 4 predecessor, including more thrust so it can launch heavier payloads into orbit. Read more about SpaceX's Falcon 9 improvements on the Block 5.
A Reusable Rocket
SpaceX says the Block 5 Falcon 9 will be capable of launching at least 10 times between major overhauls. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said that with overhauls every 10 missions, 100 flights might even be possible.
A Rocket for Astronauts
SpaceX plans to use its Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket to launch Crew Dragon, a crewed version of its Dragon cargo ship that will fly astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA. The first demonstration flights of a Crew Dragon are scheduled for mid-2018.
A New Falcon 9
The two-stage "Block 5" Falcon 9 and its payload, the Bangabandhu-1 communications satellite, successfully lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 11, 2018.
Block 5 Falcon 9 in Flight
The Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket climbs into the skies over Florida on May 11, 2018.
The Falcon 9's nine first-stage Merlin engines power the rocket toward geostationary transfer orbit.
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.