Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
4 June 2010
Origin: United States of America
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Description: The Falcon space launch system family has been designed by SpaceX to provide breakthrough advances in reliability, cost, flight environment and time to launch. This privately-developed liquid fuel rocket family includes Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy rocket designed to place a wide range of payloads into orbit for both civil and military customers. The Falcon 1 Flight 4 rocket was the first rocket of this family to orbit the Earth on September 28, 2008, after lifting off from the launch site on Omelek Island at the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific.
In June 2005, the Falcon 1 launch system was undergoing tests including countdown sequence and engine ignition prior to the first launch of a series of three launches. The tests launches occurred at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on behalf of the Space and Missile Systems Center nearby Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. The first test flight was expected before the end of 2005.
The Falcon 9 rocket was first launched on June 4, 2010, and consists of a two-stage layout, a liquid oxygen powered by SpaceX Merlin 1C engine and a rocket grade kerosene powered by SpaceX Kestrel engine. It uses the same design of Falcon 1 but with a wider diameter. It is intended to carry a wide variety to payloads to Low Earth Orbits (LEO) and Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits (GTO). The Falcon 9 rocket is able to place a 10,450 kg payload into a circular LE orbit or a 4,680 kg payload into a GTO orbit for $51.5 million. Powered by Merlin 1D engines the Falcon 9 can carry heavier payloads into orbit. The Falcon 9 was replaced by the new variants powered with Merlin 1D engines delivering its maximum thrust in late 2015.
In December 2008, NASA announced the selection of SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon Spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) when the Space Shuttle retires in 2010. The $1.6 billion contract represents a minimum of 12 flights, with an option to order additional missions for a cumulative total contract value of up to $3.1 billion.
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