The Block 5 rocket has plenty of new upgrades, like better thermal coating, more power, titanium grid fins and much more.
And it will happen very, very soon. The nine Merlin engines will be tested today, around 8 PM EDT.
A few days after the test run, on Monday, the same engine will be used to to launch Bangabandhu-1, a geostationary communications satellite for the nation of Bangladesh.
The static fire test will be conducted without the rocket’s payload fairing, which is usually mated to the top of the rocket with a customer’s satellite. SpaceX discontinued testing its Falcon 9 with a payload aboard since the Amos-6 disaster in September 2016, an explosion during fueling ahead of a static fire that destroyed the launch vehicle, launch pad, and the satellite. Yea, someone had a really, really bad day.
One of the upgrades to block 5 is pushing to reusability of the rocket. SpaceX claims that the rocket can be launched again within 48h after the initial launch, with minimal refurbishment. And it is expected to endure around 100 launches, which is quite a big number.
Another upgrade are the legs. They are now retractable, and will allow post-recovery ground crews on both coasts to easily reset them instead of completely removing them between launches. It is also sporting titanium grid fins, which guide the rocket. The titanium itself is the largest single casting of titanium in the world.
Source: Popular mechanics