Bangladesh blasted its way into the space age Friday after USA company SpaceX launched Dhaka's Bangabandhu-1 satellite into orbit, in a social-media event described by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a "glorious day" for the South Asian country.
The latest version of the Falcon 9 has around 100 upgrades, and includes a recoverable booster that is created to be reused at least 10 times, allowing more frequent launches at lower cost - a key to billionaire Elon Musk's business model. The much-awaited launch had to be pushed back nearly 24 hours, until the next launching opportunity became available.
The newly minted Block-5 edition of the Falcon 9 - equipped with about 100 upgrades for greater power, safety and reusability than its Block-4 predecessor - lifted off at 4:14 p.m. EDT (2014 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center.
The Block 5 sports numerous upgrades created to make the rocket easier to reuse.
A Bangladesh delegation, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Information and Communication Technology Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, witnessed the launching of the satellite, which was visible for around seven minutes in Florida's clear sky.
SpaceX, a privately-owned California-based space transportation firm, said in a statement that the satellite would provide telecommunications coverage for Bangladesh and surrounding nations, and would also allow Bangladeshis living in remote, previously-unreached areas to receive internet and phone service. SpaceX originally tried to take off on Thursday, but the flight was aborted just a minute before launch due to an issue with ground systems. Thanks to the changes, the Block 5 shouldn't require as much time or effort to be made flight-ready again once it lands.
"There are thousands and thousands and thousands of requirements", Musk said. "And you can't fully and properly test an orbital rocket until it launches, because you cannot recreate those conditions on Earth..."
The Block 5 is also expected to be a key player in helping SpaceX send humans into space. "Yeah. Man. Anyway, I'm stressed". Besides missions to the space station, the new rocket will be used to launch U.S. Air Force global positioning satellites and other high-value, military and national security payloads. That only leaves one massive project left for SpaceX - BFR.