SpaceX is about to test its new rocket for astronauts

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SpaceX's launch of a next-generation Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center on Thursday will mark the beginning of the end for the rocket - but it will also pave the way for the maverick company's reusability ambitions and, ultimately, its quest to touch the surface of Mars.

The launch window opens at 4:12 p.m. ET, or 20:12 UTC, and closes at 6:22 p.m. ET, or 22:22 UTC.

The next launch opportunity comes tomorrow (May 11) at 4:14 p.m. EDT (2014 GMT).

Bangabandhu Satellite-1 prepares for launch atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 Block 5. rocket at NASA at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The new Falcon 9 Block 5 booster is expected to careen back to Earth a few minutes after the launch and land on a droneship named "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic Ocean. In the past, SpaceX rockets have been only capable of making about two trips. SpaceX engineers have also included extra shielding at the base of the rocket to protect the booster's propulsion systems as they reenter the atmosphere. Going into Thursday's launch, SpaceX's landing record stood at 24 successful booster recoveries, 12 on land and 12 on droneships.

In the video above you'll find the takeoff live at approximately 4:47 PM Central Time on May 10th, 2018. The spacecraft was built by the Franco-Italian company Thales Alenia Space, and will provide TV broadcasts and telecom services throughout southeast Asia.

Block 5 represents the final suite of upgrades to its workhorse launch system that CEO Elon Musk says is created to be flown up to 100 times. It will ultimately replace all other SpaceX rockets, as it will be relatively cheap to launch and reuse - at least in theory.

The rocket's onboard computers halted the countdown about one minute before the Block-5 edition of the Falcon 9 was set to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on its maiden mission. The weather is 80% favorable.

It is part of SpaceX's goal of rapid reusability and high reliability for its rockets. "Please keep us in your prayers so that we can safely launch our first satellite of Bangladesh".

A second stage COPV apparently ruptured during a pre-launch test September 1, 2016, triggering a catastrophic explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 and its satellite payload and heavily damaged the launch complex. The new tanks are created to eliminate that failure mode and are required for NASA's commercial crew program.

The Block 5's main upgrades revolve around two features: engines and shielding.

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