Encyclopedia Astronautica
Falcon 9



zfalcon9.jpg
Falcon 9
Credit: NASA
American low cost orbital launch vehicle. In September 2006 SpaceX was named as one of two winners of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition. The SpaceX award was $278 million for three flight demonstrations of the Falcon 9 booster carrying the Dragon space capsule. On 23 December 2008 NASA announced that the Falcon 9 / Dragon had been selected for launch of a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg of payload to the International Space Station in 2010-2014. The firm contract was worth $1.6 billion, with another $1.5 billion of options.

Reliability of the Falcon 9 was assured by a hold-before-release system the Falcon was held down and could not be released for flight until all propulsion and vehicle systems were confirmed to be operating normally. An automatic safe shut-down and unloading of propellant occurred if any off nominal conditions are detected. A Kevlar shield protects each engine from debris in the event of its neighbor failing. All Falcon designs had only two stages and only one stage separation event the minimum practical. All stage separation bolts were all dual initiated, fully space qualified, and had a zero failure track record in prior launch vehicles. Guidance was by triple redundant flight computers and inertial navigation, with a GPS overlay for additional orbit insertion accuracy. The engines, structural materials and design principles, avionics and launch system were all to have been proven on earlier Falcon 1 flights before the first Falcon 9 was ever launched.

The Falcon 9 first and second stage tank walls and domes were made from aluminum 2219, using all friction stir welding. The interstage was made of a carbon fiber honeycomb structure. The separation system consisted of pyrotechnic release bolts and pneumatic separation pushers. Although in-flight failures are very rarely explosive, a Kevlar shield protects each engine from debris in the event of its neighbor failing.

LEO Payload: 10,450 kg (23,030 lb) to a 200 km orbit at 28.00 degrees. Payload: 4,540 kg (10,000 lb) to a GTO, 28 deg. Development Cost $: 378.000 million. Launch Price $: 36.750 million in 2008 dollars in 2008 dollars. Boost Propulsion: Lox/Kerosene. Cruise Thrust: 66.600 kN (14,972 lbf). Cruise Thrust: 6,800 kgf. Cruise engine: Kestrel. Initial Operational Capability: 2009.

Status: In development.
Gross mass: 333,400 kg (735,000 lb).
Payload: 10,450 kg (23,030 lb).
Height: 55.00 m (180.00 ft).
Diameter: 3.60 m (11.80 ft).
Span: 3.60 m (11.80 ft).
Thrust: 5,560.00 kN (1,249,930 lbf).
Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).
First Launch: 2010.06.04.
Last Launch: 2010.12.08.
Number: 2 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Falcon Falcons are a family of two stage, reusable, liquid oxygen and kerosene powered launch vehicles, designed for cost-efficient and reliable transport of satellites and manned spacecraft to low Earth orbit. The Falcon 1 satellite launcher began launches in 2006, with the Falcon 9 - as large as a Saturn I - flying in 2010. The Falcon series was the only successful project among many attempts to privately develop a low cost launch system since the 1960's. More...
  • LCLV Various independently-funded launch vehicles have been advocated, designed, and even developed over the years. A lot of these are attempts to build low-cost launch vehicles using simpler technology. Often such projects begin based on a low cost liquid fuel technology but end up just trying to sell various combinations of Castor solid fuel stages. These enterprises often discover there's more to coming up with a reliable launch vehicle than slashing together a bunch of 'off the shelf' rocket motors and lighting the fuse.... On the other hand, if there is ever a breakthrough in less expensive access to space, it will come through one of these entrepreneurial schemes... More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • SpaceX American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. SpaceX, USA. More...

Falcon 9 Chronology


2010 June 4 - . 18:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. Launch Pad: SLC40. LV Family: Falcon. Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9. LV Configuration: Falcon 9 s/n F9-1.
  • Dragon/Falcon 9 - . Mass: 4,000 kg (8,800 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: SpaceX. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Dragon. Decay Date: 2010-06-27 . USAF Sat Cat: 36595 . COSPAR: 2010-026A. Apogee: 140 km (80 mi). Perigee: 138 km (85 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 87.30 min. Summary: First launch of the commercial Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Structural model of Dragon reusable spacecraft. Remained attached to final stage..

2010 December 8 - . 15:43 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. Launch Pad: SLC40. LV Family: Falcon. Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9.
  • Dragon C1 - . Nation: USA. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Dragon. Duration: 0.14 days. Decay Date: 2010-01-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 37244 . COSPAR: 2010-066A. Apogee: 306 km (190 mi). Perigee: 281 km (174 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 90.40 min. Summary: First test of the Dragon recoverable spacecraft. Splashed down and successfully recovered in the Pacific Ocean 800 km west of Mexico after a 3 hour 20 minute mission..
  • QBX2 - . Payload: QbX-2. Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2011-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 37245 . COSPAR: 2010-066B. Apogee: 187 km (116 mi). Perigee: 173 km (107 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 88.10 min. Summary: Cubesat satellite built by Pumpkin Inc of San Francisco for the National Reconaissance Office's Colony-1 technology development project..
  • SMDC One - . Payload: SMDC-One. Mass: 4.00 kg (8.80 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Communications. Type: Communications satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2011-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 37246 . COSPAR: 2010-066C. Apogee: 184 km (114 mi). Perigee: 173 km (107 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 88.10 min. Summary: Operational Nanosatellite Experiment for the US Army Space and Missile Defense Center.
  • Perseus 003 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2010-01-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 37247 . COSPAR: 2010-066D. Apogee: 190 km (110 mi). Perigee: 179 km (111 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 88.20 min. Summary: Los Alamos National Laboratory cubesat, perhaps for ionospheric monitoring..
  • Perseus 001 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2010-12-30 . USAF Sat Cat: 37248 . COSPAR: 2010-066E. Apogee: 183 km (113 mi). Perigee: 176 km (109 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 88.10 min. Summary: Los Alamos National Laboratory cubesat, perhaps for ionospheric monitoring..
  • QBX1 - . Payload: QbX-1. Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2011-12-30 . USAF Sat Cat: 37249 . COSPAR: 2010-066F. Apogee: 197 km (122 mi). Perigee: 185 km (114 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 88.30 min. Summary: Cubesat satellite built by Pumpkin Inc of San Francisco for the National Reconaissance Office's Colony-1 technology development project..
  • Perseus 002 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2010-12-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 37250 . COSPAR: 2010-066G. Apogee: 193 km (119 mi). Perigee: 183 km (113 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 88.20 min. Summary: Los Alamos National Laboratory cubesat, perhaps for ionospheric monitoring..
  • Perseus 000 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2010-12-30 . USAF Sat Cat: 37251 . COSPAR: 2010-066H. Apogee: 190 km (110 mi). Perigee: 180 km (110 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 88.20 min. Summary: Los Alamos National Laboratory cubesat, perhaps for ionospheric monitoring..
  • Mayflower - . Payload: Caerus/Mayflower. Mass: 3.00 kg (6.60 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2010-12-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 37252 . COSPAR: 2010-066J. Apogee: 194 km (120 mi). Perigee: 179 km (111 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 88.20 min. Experiment for Northrop Grumman NovaWorks and the University of Southern California. 3-unit cubesat with deployable solar panels composed of a Northrop Grumman's 2-unit Mayflower Next Generation Technology Nanosat and University of Southern California's 1-unit cubesat.

Home - Browse - Contact
© / Conditions for Use