SpaceX Targets May 10 Launch for 1st Upgraded Block 5 Falcon 9 Carrying Bangabandhu-1 Comsat

After completing hold down static fire test of first stage
engines on May 4 of the first upgraded Block 5 Falcon 9 booster, SpaceX targets
May 10, 2018 launch of the Bangabandhu-1
communications satellite from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
(KSC) in Florida. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken Kremer 
  
SpaceUpClose.com     7 May 2018

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL
  Following last weeks hold down static
hot fire test of the first upgraded Block 5 version of their Falcon 9 booster,
SpaceX is now targeting a May 10 blastoff of the rocket carrying the Bangabandhu-1 satellite to geostationary orbit from
the Florida Space Coast.

The Falcon 9 liftoff is
slated for May 10 from seaside Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space
Center (KSC) in Florida following a review of
the engine test data by SpaceX engineers.

SpaceX announced the
May 10 launch date in a tweet posted on May 7- three days after engineers
completed the brief, approximately three second long engine test at sunset on May
4 – witnessed by Space UpClose.

“Targeting
Falcon 9 Block 5 launch of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 on May 10 from Pad 39A in
Florida,” SpaceX tweeted.

The May 10 launch window extends slightly
over two hours; opening at 4:12 p.m. EDT
(2012 GMT) and closing at 6:22 p.m. EDT (2222 GMT). 


Venting of oxygen propellant
as
SpaceX
team conducts hold down static fire test of first stage engines on the first upgraded
Block 5 Falcon 9 booster prior to launch of the Bangabandhu-1 communications satellite from Launch
Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida in May 2018. 
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

SpaceX will attempt to recover the first stage booster on the
OCISLY droneship prepositioned at sea in the Atlantic Ocean some 400 miles (600
km) off the east coast of Florida.

Bangabandhu-1 is the first geostationary communications satellite for the nation of Bangladesh –  making it the 58th country to own
such a satellite.

Artists concept of Bangabandhu-1 communications satellite. 
Credit:
Thales Alenia Space
The satellite bears the symbolic name of the Father of
the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
.


The 3.7-ton satellite was built by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, a
satellite manufacturing company based in France in
their Cannes facility
for the governmental Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory
Commission (BTRC).

Bangabandhu-1 will be positioned at 119.1° East longitude.



The satellite
arrived by plane at Cape Canaveral on March 30 for processing by SpaceX.



Bangabandhu1 is equipped with fitted with 26 Ku-Band and
14 C-Band transponders. The satellite’s coverage zone encompasses Bangladesh
and the surrounding region. This system will offer capacity in Ku-Band over
Bangladesh and its territorial waters of the Bay of Bengal, India, Nepal,
Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia; it will also provide capacity in
C-Band over the whole region.

This launch is also of
extremely great importance and significance to NASA because the Block 5 Falcon
9 will be used by SpaceX to launch American astronauts back to space and the
International Space Station (ISS) from American soil and thereby end our 100%
dependence on the Russian Soyuz for seats to orbit and back. 

Thus a lot is riding
on the upgraded Falcon 9 – which is also the final upgrade for this rocket,
according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and VP Hans Koenigsmann. The upgrades
increase the reliability and reusability of the Falcon 9 including faster
turnaround with less maintenance and fewer refurbishments.

The weather outlook is currently favorable. The official forecast issued
today by the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron indicates an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions at launch time.

The primary concern is for the Thick Cloud Layer Rule.

In case of a 24 hour delay, the forecast drops to a 60% chance of
favorable weather conditions at launch time. The primary concern remains for the
Thick Cloud Layer Rule.

The fully integrated Falcon 9 rocket with
the Bangabandhu-1 payload encapsulated inside the nose cone will be rolled back
out to pad 39A soon.

SpaceX team conducts hold down static fire test of first stage
engines on the first upgraded Block 5 Falcon 9 booster prior to launch of the Bangabandhu-1 communications
satellite from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in
Florida in May 2018. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Space UpClose was on
hand to witness the critical static fire test from an excellent vantage point
only few miles away – out on the causeway leading out to Playalinda Beach. 

See our imagery
herein.

The test was conducted
on the first two stages but minus the payload to keep it safe in case of a
mishap as occurred during the Amos-6 explosion in September 10.  

The high stakes
engine test on the fully fueled SpaceX Falcon 9 booster took place at
approximately 7:25 p.m. EDT May 4 with the sudden ignition of all nine Merlin
1D engines bolted onto the base of the first stage for about three seconds
while raised erect atop Launch Complex 39A at KSC.

Watch this video of the static fire test from Jeff Seibert:


Video Caption: First SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9
Rocket Test Fire on 39A. Credit: Jeff Seibert

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX,
ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more
space and mission
reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing
Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer –
ken
at kenkremer.com

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.