SpaceX to expend final rocket

BY LEAH WILLIAMS
Posted on SEP 13, 2019

A two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket complete with the robotic Dragon cargo.

SpaceX will launch a new resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) early June 29. The 15th resupply mission to the ISS marks the company's initiative to fly the Block 4 version of its Falcon 9 rocket for the final time.

The company's next two launches in July were already known to be flying on the latest and presumably final revision to the Falcon 9 rocket, the Block 5 variant.
However, Thursday's news conference confirmed that there will be no more Block 4 flights after the impending space station launch, as announced by the company's manager for the Dragon spacecraft program, Jessica Jensen.

Optimized for reusability, the Block 5 version of the rocket has flown in singularity during a prosperous flight in two months ago. Since then, SpaceX has been working through its inventory of previously flown rockets.

The rocket scheduled to fly Friday first launched on April 18, sending NASA's planet-hunting TESS spacecraft into a lunar resonant orbit. The 10-week turnaround was exceptionally agile for a Block 4 booster, but SpaceX says its Block 5 should be able to fly with posthaste.

As SpaceX demonstrates no plans to fly Block 4 of the Falcon 9 rocket again, it will be expended into the ocean. However, the rocket's second stage will make a much longer "coast" in space before de-orbiting after four revolutions around Earth