On 11th of May, SpaceX launched the much awaited new version of Falcon 9 Block 5 into space. It is the same spacecraft that will be taking astronauts to space. However, it has been heard that the vehicle which launched with the Bangabandhu-1 satellite isn’t fully configured for carrying the crew members to the International Space Station as of yet.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was asked the question that whether this upgraded version had all the requirements as laid out by NASA. It was before the launch of the Block 5 version that Musk said that all the conditions are fulfilled. But now when it is learned that some technical updation is missing, he changed his statement and said that perhaps he might be mistaken. As per the inside report, the rocket is missing some upgraded tanks that have to be installed before it takes astronauts up to space. This means that the Block 5 version has to lift off with an uncrewed vehicle for some more time before ti can get the green signal to take a crewed mission to the moon.
Block 5 is developed with new and robust landing capabilities which will make the rocket much more comfortable to be reused bringing economies of scale for the company to a large extent. It is the same vehicle that will carry astronauts into the outer space. However, NASA desires to fly the vehicle seven times into the frozen “crew configuration” before it can allow astronauts to board the flight and reach out to the ISS. This implies that the company will be in no position to bring about any significant changes to the design section of the rocket between the flights.
But it has been learned that the Lift off that took place on May 11th will not be considered among the seven flights that have been scheduled for the rocket before it can take astronauts aboard. The main reason behind this is such launching missed the main hardware inside the rocket known as COPVs- composite overwrapped pressure vehicle.
As the experts say, these bottles will fit inside the main propellant tanks of the rocket. The tanks will be filled up with helium while the fuel will quickly be consumed during the flight. However, this COPV has been a headache for the Company. This very material caused a SpaceX rocket to explode in the year of 2016 while fueling the rocket. The material which had enclosed the COPV caused the super cool propellants inside the tank to ignite.
Since then the company has been vigilant regarding abiding by the guidelines of NASA regarding launching issues.