SpaceX's new Falcon 9 just landed perfectly, and it's a game-changer

Musk is so confident in the company's upgraded Falcon 9 that he's predicting that by 2019 SpaceX will be able to land a Falcon 9 booster after a launch and then launch it again 24 hours later.

SpaceX launched an upgraded version of its Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Coast Friday.

Shortly before the second stage separation, the first stage executed a controlled landing back on SpaceX's drone ship in the Atlantic - the company's 25th recovered first stage.

Share this article: The first Falcon 9 Block 5 blasts off from Cape Canaveral.

The countdown on Thursday came to an abrupt halt with less than a minute remaining. Today's success marks the first time this rocket has been launched and successfully landed. Before transporting humans, however, SpaceX will have to launch the rocket seven or more times.

Such activities are part of the company's efforts to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets and spacecraft.

SpaceX aims to reduce the cost of spaceflight through reusability.

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During the call, Musk discussed changes that SpaceX engineers have incorporated into the Block 5 variant of the rocket.

Musk estimated the Falcon 9 Block 5 will make "something on the order of 300 flights", before retiring. The nine Merlin engines in the rocket's first stage and the single "vacuum Merlin" in the second stage boast about 8 percent and 5 percent more thrust, respectively, than their counterparts in the Falcon 9 Block 4.

"I'm certain we can achieve reusability of the upper stage, the question is simply what the mass penalty is", he said. "But by late this year we should be seeing substantial reflight of Block 5 vehicles, probably with Block 5 boosters seeing their third, maybe their fourth reflight".

SpaceX holds a multibillion-dollar contract with NASA to provide such taxi services. As such, Block 5 rockets have been created to conform to NASA's crew-carrying requirements.

"That would be exciting", Musk said in reference to driving down the cost of launching to space during a press call Thursday. "This rocket is really created to be - the intent is to be the most reliable rocket ever built".

Until now, SpaceX has only ever used any of its boosters twice.

The rocket is created to require far less maintenance and refurbishment between flights, and is certified to carry humans to space later this year when SpaceX launches its Dragon crew capsule to the International Space Station. It's the first satellite belonging to Bangladesh.

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