Falcon 9 Block 5

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Falcon 9 Block 5
Function Orbital launch vehicle
Manufacturer SpaceX
Country of origin United States
Height 70 m (230 ft)[1]
Diameter 3.66 m (12.0 ft)[2]
Mass Unknown
Stages 2
Launch history
Status In development
Launch sites
Total launches 0
Successes 0
Failures 0
Partial failures 0
Landings 0/0 attempts
First stage
Engines 9 Merlin 1D++ (maximum thrust)
Thrust 8,451 kN (1,900,000 lbf)
Fuel LOX / RP-1
Second stage
Engines 1 Merlin 1D++ Vacuum (Maximum thrust) [3]
Fuel LOX / RP-1

The Falcon 9 Block 5 is a version of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle in development as of 2017. It will succeed the transitional Falcon 9 Block 4, the largest changes between this version and the Falcon 9 Full Thrust are higher thrust on all of the engines and improvements on landing legs. There are also a number of small changes to streamline recovery and reusability of first-stage boosters. Alterations to the launch vehicle are primarily focused on increasing the speed of production and efficiency of reusability.


On 17 February 2017, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell stated that the Block 5 changes are mainly driven by upgrades needed for the Commercial Crew program and National Security Space Launch requirements, they include performance upgrades, manufacturing improvements, and "probably 100 or so changes" to increase the margin for demanding customers.[4]

In early April 2017, after the first reflight of a Falcon 9 first-stage booster, Elon Musk said that Block 5 will feature:[5]

  • For increased payload:
    • 7–8% more thrust by uprating the engines,
    • an improved flight control system for an optimized angle of attack on descent, lowering landing fuel requirements.
  • For rapid reusability:
    • Forged, more temperature-resistant titanium grid fins,
    • a thermal protection coating on the first stage to limit reentry heating damage,
    • a set of retractable landing legs for rapid recovery and shipping,
    • a reusable heat shield protecting the engines and plumbing at the base of the rocket.

The transitional Falcon 9 Block 4 model is now expected to increase the engine thrust partially or completely to the Falcon 9 Block 5 performance, although they were originally anticipated to debut on Block 5, titanium grid fins were first mounted on the Falcon 9 Full Thrust launching the second batch of Iridium NEXT satellites on June 25, 2017, to improve control authority and better cope with heat during re-entry.[6] Following post-flight inspections, Musk announced the new grid fins likely will require no service between flights.[7]