Evolution of SpaceX rockets

Evolution of SpaceX rockets

Falcon 1

Falcon 1 is a two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle privately developed and manufactured by SpaceX during 2006–2009. It was 21.3 meters (70 feet) tall with a diameter of 1.7 meters (5.5 feet). Its weight was 38,555 kg (85,000 lb) with a payload capacity of between 670 kg (1480 lb) to the Low Earth Orbit (LEO)Notes 3 and 430 kg (990 lb) to the Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO)Notes 4.

Falcon 1 achieved orbit in September 2008 on its fourth attempt, with a mass simulator as a payload. On July 14, 2009, it made its final flight (fifth launch overall) and successfully delivered the Malaysian RazakSAT satellite to orbit. It wasc also SpaceX’s first commercial launch. Following this last launch, the Falcon 1 was retired and succeeded by Falcon 9.

Elon Musk says “9 years ago SpaceX nearly failed itself out of existence: the first three launches failed. And fortunately the fourth launch, which was, that was the last money that we had for Falcon 1. That fourth launch worked.”

Falcon 9

Falcon 9 is also a two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle like Falcon 1. It is named for its use of nine first-stage engines. The “Full Thrust” version is 70 meters (230 feet) tall with a diameter of 3.7 meters (12 feet). It can lift payloads of up to 22,800 kilograms (50,300 lb) to low Earth orbit, and up to 8,300 kg (18,300 lb) to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO)Notes 5. The initial version 1.0 flew five times from June 2010 to March 2013, version 1.1 flew fifteen times from September 2013 to January 2016, and the current Full Thrust version has been in service since December 2015.

Falcon Heavy

Falcon Heavy, previously known as the Falcon 9 Heavy, is a variant of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and will consist of a strengthened Falcon 9 rocket core, with two additional Falcon 9 first stages as strap-on boosters. With the ability to lift into orbit over 54 metric tons (119,000 lb) – a mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel. Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9. Its first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.

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