SpaceX has about 6 recovered boosters which will be reused. Most will be reused and not recovered in the next several launches.
SpaceX ic counting on Block 5 to succeed with increased reusability and for faster relaunching. If any design or manufacturing flaws are discovered in the first several Block 5 Falcon 9s, or if Block 5 is less reusable than SpaceX then SpaceX could have delays in its launch schedule.
The first Block 5 Falcon 9 first stage is on the test stand at their McGregor, Texas test facility.
The maiden flight is planned for April 2018, with the Bangabandhu-1 satellite.
SpaceX Block 5 improvements:
Alterations are focused on increasing the speed of production and efficiency of re-usability. SpaceX aims to fly each Block 5 booster ten times with only inspections in between, and up to 100 times with refurbishment
For increased payload:
* 7–8% more thrust by uprating the engines;
* an improved flight control system for an optimized angle of attack on the descent, lowering landing fuel requirements.
For reusability endurance:
* a reusable heat shield protecting the engines and plumbing at the base of the rocket;
* more temperature-resistant titanium casted grid fins;
* a thermal protection coating on the first stage to limit reentry heating damage;
* Redesigned and requalified valves for higher levels and much longer duration.
For rapid reusability:
* a set of black retractable landing legs for rapid recovery and shipping.
Block 5 is planned to launch astronauts for the first time in late 2018. NASA requires seven flights before the vehicle can be certified for human spaceflight.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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