Photo by John Schreiber.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX will look to make yet another rocket-industry advancement Thursday when it attempts the first launch of its refurbished Falcon 9 rocket designed to make it more durable for re-use in future missions.

Known as the Falcon 9 Block 5, the rocket includes improvements such as upgraded heat shields to protect the rocket’s base during re-entry. The Block 5 is also outfitted with improved navigation fins — which help guide the rocket’s first stage back to Earth after delivering a satellite into orbit — made from fire-resistant titanium.

The upgrades are all designed to make Falcon 9 rockets, which SpaceX has already been recovering and using multiple times to cut costs on future missions, even more durable. Company officials have said the Block 5 model could potentially be used 10 times or more, while the current Falcon 9s have never been used more than twice.

Reusing the rockets is a major cost-saving step for space travel. Although SpaceX has never fully divulged manufacturing costs, experts have estimated that the first stage of the rocket can cost up to $40 million alone. That’s more than half of the estimated overall $62 million price of the Falcon 9, according to various trade publications.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 is scheduled to launch at 1:12 p.m. California time from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The payload will be the Bangladesh Communications Satellite Co.’s first orbital satellite, dubbed Bangabandhu-1. The satellite is expected to expand communication capabilities across Bangladesh and in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia.

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