SpaceX Falcon 9 Ultimate Rocket Targets 99 More Launches

Falcon 9 Stage 5 before launch 1 photo
Photo: Youtube screenshot/SpaceX
Over the next five years, and for some 99 missions, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Stage 5 will be the rocket of choice for space agencies and private companies sending their equipment into space. At least this is what Elon Musk hopes, in the wake of last week’s successful first launch of Stage 5.
The Stage 5 of the Falcon 9 is to be the last version of the rocket that has come to impress the world ever since 2010. During last week’s mission, it carried into space the Bangabandhu, Bangladesh’s first communications satellite. It then landed safely on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Following this first launch, the Block 5 is designed to last for another 99 missions. Such an achievement would mark yet another milestone in space exploration, as no other rocket has been reused as many times in human history.

But until that milestone is reached, Musk said last Friday SpaceX plans to relaunch the Stage 5 for three or four more times by the end of the year.

According to CNET, Elon Musk plans to fly several Stage 5 rockets for about 300 times before retiring and replacing them with the one he’s really after, the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR).

The Stage 5 is part of the Full Thrust variant of the Falcon 9, a family of rockets which feature improved landing legs and grid fins, several structural improvements and weigh less than its predecessors.

It also has a redesigned helium pressurant tanks, to avoid incidents like the one which took place at Cape Canaveral in 2016, when such a tank was the cause of a Falcon 9 rocket explosion.

Before the BFR is ready, SpaceX is chasing another big goal, one that if successful might make the number of space rockets available bigger than the demand for them: repeated launches.

As stated ever since last year, SpaceX plans to achieve a 24-hour turnaround window for used Falcon 9 rockets as soon as this year.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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