SpaceX is preparing to fly Falcon Block 5 upgrade next week

The ultimate objective of the Block 5 upgrade is to make the Falcon 9’s first stage capable of flying up to 100 times with refurbishment, SpaceX officials have said. The Falcon 9 Block 5’s first stage is designed to launch up to 10 times with minimal rework between missions, according to SpaceX.

The fastest turnaround between flights of the same Falcon 9 booster to date has been approximately five months, and no Falcon 9 first stage has flown more than twice.

Block 5 upgrade to
* resolve a concern with turbine wheel cracks inside the Merlin engine’s turbopump
* new helium tanks are not susceptible to pooling frozen liquid oxygen and friction that led to the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad in 2016.
* performance upgrade
* improved heat shielding
* changes to meet NASA safety requirements for launches with astronauts heading for the International Space Station
* new landing legs that can be retracted without the need for recovery teams to remove them from the rocket

“There is a performance upgrade here as well, largely to get more margin for (those) very demanding customers,” Shotwell said. “There’s some manufacturing improvements. We’ve addressed the turbine wheel issue (on Block 5). There are probably 100 or so changes on that vehicle.”