The Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket's main goal for its maiden mission was to propel a communications satellite for Bangladesh, called Bangabandhu Satellite-1, to a geostationary transfer orbit roughly 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) above Earth.
The rocket is the latest version of the company's Falcon 9 platform and its design is very easy to refurbish and reuse.
The rocket, which is carrying a satellite for Bangladesh into orbit, was scheduled to blast off from launch pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Thursday, but the planned launch was scrubbed. "What a great sight!" the launch commentator announced as cheers and applause filled SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne, California. The satellite is expected to expand communication capabilities across Bangladesh and in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia.
The Block 5 has new, black landing legs that are retractable.
So far, the first-stage boosters have been recycled once, for a total of two flights apiece. "Ironically, we need to take it apart to prove that it does not need to be taken apart", he joked.
The company stated that the Block 5 model "is created to be capable of 10 or more refurbishments, and is very limited", which will help shorten the time between successive launches, which the company has been doing for some time.
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.
Musk said there'll be no Block 6.
There will be additional "minor refinements" in Block 5, Musk said. In total, Falcon 9 rockets have made more than 50 trips to space over the past eight years. He compared his future vision for spaceflight to the current business model for commercial aviation, which relies on using the same flying vehicle for thousands of flights.
"Would you rather fly in an aircraft that has never had a test flight before or would you rather fly in an aircraft that has flown many times successfully?" he said.
The rocket is built to re-fly up to 10 times with minimal refurbishment, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told reporters ahead of the launch.