Falcon 9 is a medium-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX in the USA. It is a partially reusable, two-stage-to-orbit rocket.
Falcon 9 is used to transport cargo, science material and humans to low Earth orbit. Customers include NASA and other government agencies, research organizations from the public and private sectors, businesses and recreational passengers.
The first mention of Falcon 9 was in 2005 when SpaceX revealed plans to develop and launch the rocket by 2007. After some delays, the successful maiden launch occurred in 2010.
Falcon 9 was the first SpaceX vehicle to be partly funded by government money, beginning with the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program that ran from 2006 to 2013. This was at a time when commercial contracts were viewed with suspicion by many in the aerospace industry. SpaceX was under pressure from all sides - from critics, from those funding the program, and from the rest of the burgeoning "new space" industry. If Falcon 9 failed to deliver, it would cast a shadow over the entire sector.
Falcon 9 has since cemented a solid record of successful launches and is now a regular sight on the launchpad.
- June 4, 2010: Flight 1. Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit, first flight of Falcon 9 and first test of Dragon.
- May 22, 2012: COTS Demo Flight 2. First cargo delivery to the International Space Station.
- Dec 22 2015: Flight 20. First controlled landing of the booster.
- Feb 19, 2017: CRS-10. First launch from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
- March 30, 2017: SES-10. First reflight of an orbital class booster.
- March 2, 2019: Crew Dragon Demo-1. First orbital test of the Dragon 2.
- May 30, 2020: Crew Dragon Demo-2. First crewed test flight of the Crew Dragon.
- Sep 16, 2021: Inspiration4. First orbital flight of an all-private crew.
- Height: 70 m (230 ft)
- Diameter: 3.7 m (12 ft)
- Stages: 2
- Engines: Merlin
- Propellant: Cryogenic liquid oxygen (LOX) and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1)
- Reusable: Partially (booster, capsule)
- Payload volume: 145 m3 (5120.63 ft3)
- Payload to LEO: 22,800 kilograms (50,300 lb)
- Payload to GTO (no booster recovery): 8,300 kg (18,300 lb)
- Payload to GTO (with booster recovery): 5,500 kg (12,100 lb)