First SpaceX Block 5 launch confirmed
Thales Alenia Space confirmed to AmericaSpace today that their Bangabandhu-1 satellite will be launching on SpaceX's first 'Block-5' Falcon 9 rocket. The date is currently planned for NET April 24th, later than people had anticipated. The date was originally the first week of April, but slipped a few weeks back due to SpaceX running additional tests on the Block-5 first stage. Thales stated, "Bangabandu-1 will fly on the most advanced and reliable vehicle ever built by SpaceX".
The Block-5, or "Final Version" of the Falcon 9 consists of many upgrades to the first stage to begin the rapid reusability of the rockets that will ultimately lower the cost of their Falcon 9. There are some upgrades to the engines and they've added protective black thermal paint to the pipes and electronics that run along the side of the booster. They've also moved their 'SpaceX' logo up so the soot doesn't cover it up, allowing them to not have to repaint it. Rapid Reusability will allow the same rocket to launch 2 missions in one day, or many launches in a week. This will change the way that we send payloads into space and will make it cheaper to do so.