SpaceX has launched the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, sending the Bangabandhu-1 geostationary communications satellite into orbit for the country of Bangladesh. The launch occurred at 4:14 p.m. EDT (2014 GMT), lifting off from historic Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.
The rocket’s first and second stages separated about 2.5 minutes into the flight. The landing, which occurred less than 9 minutes after liftoff, elicited raucous cheers from SpaceX employees at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
“Today we watched SpaceX make history again with their new generation Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket,” the 45th Space Wing said in a statement on its Facebook page. “The Bangabandhu-1 communications satellite was the first launch off Pad 39 since Falcon Heavy. They continue to make strides in what is possible from the Eastern Range. Rural neighborhoods in and across Bangladesh will have the ability to access direct-to-home television programming.”
Enhanced rocket reusability is a core tenet of SpaceX owner and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s broader objectives of making space travel commonplace and ultimately sending humans to Mars.
SpaceX has safely return-landed 24 of its boosters and reflown 11 of them. today’s launch marked the ninth SpaceX launch so far this year, compared to five orbital-class missions the company had logged at the same point in 2017.