SpaceX's 1st 'Block 5' Falcon 9 Rocket: The Launch Photos

Booster and SpaceX Hangar

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SpaceX's first Block 5 booster sits atop Launch Pad 39A, adjacent to the company's hangar at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space reporter Amy Thompson documented its May 11 and Aug. 7 launches. [Read our full story on the two launches here]

View of the booster on Pad 39A

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The new Block 5 sits ready to hoist the Bangabhandu-1 satellite, Bangladesh's first, into orbit.

No soot

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Here you can see the sleek and shiny brand-new Block 5 booster, a souped-up version of the Falcon 9 that can fly multiple times.

Bangladeshi reporters

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Bangladesh was incredibly excited to have its first satellite launched into space. A group of reporters from the country made the journey here to see it off.

Countdown clock

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The clock counts down as the first launch of SpaceX's Block 5 booster prepares to lift off. For launches from Pad 39A, the clock is a prime viewing location.

Good-luck cookies

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A tasty launch tradition: JPL may have peanuts, but KSC has cookies.


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The first Block 5 Falcon lifts off, carrying the Bangabhandu-1 satellite into space on May 11, 2018.

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. 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.

Block 5's First Flight


Another view of SpaceX's first Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket launch.

Pre-MP launch

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The same first-stage booster that carried the Bangabhandu-1 satellite into space sits ready to do it again. On Aug. 7, the booster delivered its second satellite, an Indonesian telecommunications satellite called Merah Putih (MP), into orbit.

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Amy Thompson
Contributing Writer

Amy Thompson is a Florida-based space and science journalist, who joined as a contributing writer in 2015. She's passionate about all things space and is a huge science and science-fiction geek. Star Wars is her favorite fandom, with that sassy little droid, R2D2 being her favorite. She studied science at the University of Florida, earning a degree in microbiology. Her work has also been published in Newsweek, VICE, Smithsonian, and many more. Now she chases rockets, writing about launches, commercial space, space station science, and everything in between.