San Francisco: After an updated version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral carrying Bangladesh’s first communications satellite into orbit, its Founder and CEO Elon Musk on Sunday said his company is set for over 300 missions in five years.
The ‘Block 5’ booster, the final substantial upgrade to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle, was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre on its maiden flight on Friday.
The rocket’s first stage was successfully recovered, landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” offshore droneship, about eight minutes after the launch, at an unmanned platform vessel in the Pacific Ocean.
“SpaceX will probably build 30 to 40 rocket cores for 300 missions over 5 years. Then the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) takes over & Falcon retires. Goal of BFR is to enable anyone to move to moon, Mars & eventually outer planets,” Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday.
The ‘Block-5’ booster is designed to be capable of 10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment as SpaceX continues to strive for rapid reusability and extremely high reliability.
“Rate at which things are getting more bizarre appears to be increasing. In the future, it will seem bizarre that we used to crash rockets into the ocean instead of reusing them,” Musk added.
Falcon 9 rocket, aiming to bring astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the future, came with many design changes to improve its reusability and reliability. Those changes may make engineers easier to refurbish its first stages for more flights.
The new rocket has improved its helium tanks submerged in liquid oxygen propellant tanks in the second stage. The helium tanks were ruptured in a pre-launch test on September 1, 2016, causing an explosion.
The Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, which will be used to explore Mars — a goal that Musk hopes to accomplish by 2022 — will be built in the Port of Los Angeles.
According to media reports, the LA Board of Harbor Commissioners gave its unanimous approval to permit SpaceX to build the BFR Mars rocket at a new facility on Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles.
The report said the new rocket manufacturing facility would be built on a 19-acre parcel on the mostly artificial island that’s part of the port. The facility would provide employment to as many as 700 people, according to SpaceX.
According to Musk, the huge new rocket would be nearly 350 feet tall and span 30 feet in diameter.
Last month, NASA’s next planet-hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess), was successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Tess is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, including some that could support life.