SpaceX Launch Vehicle Family
SpaceX is a family of launch vehicles includes:
- Falcon1: retired - launched 5 times
- in use
- Falcon Heavy: in development
Falcon 1 is the first orbital rocket developed in the 21st
century. Falcon 1 served the small satellite market. Falcon 1 was
capable of carrying up to 420 kg to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). All
Falcon 1 were launched from Omelek Island, Marshall Islands.
Falcon 9 serves the medium to large satellite market and
was designed for manned spaceflight. Falcon 9 offers
the lowest cost per pound/kilogram to orbit in its class. Falcon 9
is capable of carrying up to 10,450 kg to LEO and 4,540 kg to GTO.
SpaceX plans to launch its first commercial geostationary
satellite in 2013 from a Falcon 9.
SpaceX Rockets - Present &
Potential Future Designs.
Falcon Heavy will be capable of carrying up to 29,610 kg to LEO
and up to 15,010 kg to GTO. Falcon Heavy could have important
implications for Mars exploration and even settlement.
Grasshopper is an experimental vertical takeoff, vertical landing
(VTVL) technology demonstrator rocket built in 2011 for
low-altitude testing. Tests began began in 2012.
What is Dragon? What is DragonLab?
is a reusable spacecraft, designed for transporting cargo and crew
to and from orbiting destinations including the International
Space Station. Dragon is being developed in partnership with NASA,
under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS)
DragonRider is the crewed variant of Dragon. It will be able to
carry up to a crew of seven astronauts or a combination of crew
and cargo, to and from low Earth orbit destinations or to the
International Space Station.
Though designed to address cargo and crew requirements for the
International Space Station (ISS), Dragon, as a free-flying
spacecraft, also provides an excellent platform for in-space
technology demonstrations and scientific instrument testing.
DragonLab is an uncrewed version of the Dragon spacecraft which
will be used for non-NASA, non-ISS commercial flights. It is
reusable, free-flying, and is capable of carrying both pressurized
and unpressurized payloads.
Red Dragon is a concept for a low-cost un-crewed Mars lander that
would utilize a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle and a modified
Dragon capsule to enter the Martian atmosphere.
NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS)
After a rigorous competition and significant due diligence in
2006, NASA selected SpaceX to demonstrate delivery of cargo (with
an option to demonstrate crew carriage) to the
Station (ISS). Under its Space Act Agreement with NASA for cargo
carriage, SpaceX has conduct flights of its Dragon spacecraft
aboard the Falcon 9 rocket to demonstrate this capability.
Engines Power for SpaceX Falcon Launch Vehicles
Falcon launch vehicles are powered by internally-developed SpaceX
Falcon 1 first stage was powered by a single SpaceX Merlin 1C
regeneratively-cooled turbo-pump engine, the simplest possible
design for a pump-fed engine. Falcon 1 second stage is powered by
a single SpaceX Kestrel ablatively-cooled engine, a simple
pressure-fed system which has dual redundant igniters for added
reliability and restart.
Falcon 9 first stage is powered by nine SpaceX Merlin 1C
regeneratively-cooled engines, which also employ the 'hold before
release' system. A single Merlin 1C engine, with a larger vacuum
nozzle for efficiency, powers the Falcon 9 upper stage. For added
reliability, the engine has dual redundant pyrophoric igniters and
four injection ports to ensure engine ignition.
SpaceX headquarters is located in Hawthorne, California, near Los
Angeles International Airport.
The design and manufacturing facilities are located near the Los
Angeles International airport in Southern California . The
propulsion and structural test facilities are located in Central
Texas. SpaceX also maintains offices in Washington, D.C.
SpaceX uses three launch complexes:
1. Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
2. Kwajalein Atoll (Reagan Test Site) in the Marshall Islands
3. Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
4. Omelek Island, Marshall Islands - located in the northern
* 2002 -
SpaceX was established by Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal
and the Zip2 Corporation.
* 2008 - SpaceX won the NASA contract
to replace the cargo transport function of the Space Shuttle with
Falcon 9 and Dragon. President Obama and NASA Administrator Bolden
decided in 2010 to outsource astronaut transport to the commercial
sector. Falcon 9 / Dragon was considered by many to be the leading system
for that role.
* December 2010 - SpaceX became the first private company to
successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.
* 25 May 2012 - an uncrewed variant of Dragon became the
first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous with and be
attached to the International Space Station.
* October 2012 -
SpaceX CRS-1 was the first commercial resupply mission to the
International Space Station (ISS).
Elon Musk - Founder
Elon Musk founded SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corpration)
in 2002 and serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer and
Chief Technology Officer.
Musk served as chief engineer for Falcon 1, the first privately
developed liquid fuel rocket to reach orbit, as well as Falcon 9
and the Dragon spacecraft.
Musk’s other primary activity is serving as CEO and Product
Architect of Tesla Motors, where he has overseen product
development and design from the beginning, including the all
electric Tesla Roadster and Model S sedan. Musk is also the
non-executive chairman of SolarCity, the leading provider of solar
power systems in California.
Prior to SpaceX, Musk co-founded PayPal, the world's leading
Internet payment system and served as the company's Chairman and
CEO. Before PayPal, Musk co-founded Zip2, a provider of Internet
software to the media industry.
In 2007, Musk was recognized for his work by Research and
Development Magazine’s, receiving their Innovator of the Year
Award. He received the 2007/2008 American Institute of Aeronautics
and Astronautics award for the greatest contribution to the field
of space transportation.
In 2008, Musk was named as one of the 75
most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire magazine
and received the Aviation Week 2008 Laureate for the most
significant achievement worldwide in the space industry.
the National Space Society awarded Musk their Von Braun Trophy,
given for leadership of the most significant achievement in space.
In 2010, Musk was recognized as a Living Legend in
Aviation by the Kitty Hawk Foundation for creating the Falcon 9
rocket and Dragon spacecraft.
He has a physics degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a
business degree from Wharton and currently serves as a member of
the Stanford University Engineering Advisory Board.
Did you know?
* NASA’s COTS program is a 'pay for performance' partnership
between the government and private industry. It is the first
program of its kind where the government provides seed money to
develop capabilities, but only pays for development after it has
To stay informed about SpaceX progress and news is to sign up the
Flying SpaceX F9 Model Rocket
Build & fly your own Falcon 9 rocket & Dragon spacecraft 1:88
scale model into low-Earth atmosphere. Model comes with molded
nose and tail, full-color preprinted body tube and full-color
sticker for Dragon.
The finished model stands 58 cms (22.8 inches) tall. No painting
required. The kit includes molded transparent fins for flight that
can be removed for display.