Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
Falcon 9 is now fully integrated at the Cape! Today we mated the 5.2 m payload fairing to the Falcon 9 first stage (see above photo). This was the final step in the integration process—one day ahead of schedule.
With Falcon 9 integrated, our focus shifts to the big launch mount and erector. All the pieces have been delivered, and the coming days will see a tremendous amount of welding to join them all together.
The long hours put in by the SpaceX team over the last several weeks, particularly the folks on the ground at the Cape, are certainly paying off. Once the launch mount and erector are complete, we’ll transfer Falcon 9 on to the erector and raise it to vertical early in 2009. Happy New Year!
Details of the Falcon 9 (also from the SpaceX website):
Like Falcon 1, Falcon 9 is a two stage, liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) powered launch vehicle. It uses the same engines, structural architecture (with a wider diameter), avionics and launch system.
Length: 54.9 m (180 ft)
Width: 3.6 m (12 ft)
Mass (LEO, 5.2m fairing): 333,400 kg (735,000 lb)
Mass (GTO, 5.2m fairing): 332,800 kg (733,800 lb)
Thrust (vacuum): 5.56 MN (1.25 M lb)
The Falcon 9 is a human rated rocket, designed to carry the seven passenger Dragon spaceship to the ISS by 2010. The Dragon spaceship can also carry cargo and in fact its first trips to the ISS will be to ferry cargo rather than people.
The first launch of the Falcon 9 (of the very vehicle in the photo above) is scheduled for early 2009.
See SpaceX for more details.