Has SpaceX Achieved its Objectives?
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation boasts a wide spectrum of light, medium, and heavy launch vehicles, including the Falcon 1, Spacex Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy. The Falcon 1 is small two-stage LOx (liquid oxygen) and RP-1 (rocket propellant) powered rocket. Because of its small size, it is capable of carrying up to 420 kg (approx. 925 lbs) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
The Falcon 1 was successfully launched on September 28, 2008 from the Omelek Island in the Kwajalein Atoll at 4:15 PM PDT. It achieved orbit on its fourth attempt and became the first liquid-propelled launch vehicle to be successfully developed by a private company. The cost of developing Falcon 1 was only between $7.9million and 9.1million, compared to other launch vehicles which require approx. $40million as construction costs.
Spacex Falcon 9 is a medium launch vehicle designed for operational spaceflight. It has features similar to Falcon 1 but is capable of carrying 12,500 kg (approx 27,500 lbs) to LEO. The cost of developing this medium launch vehicle was only $36.7million, compared to the $180 million price tag of other launch service providers.
In 2006, NASA chose SpaceX to demonstrate delivery of cargo to the International Space Station. Under the NASA’s COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) contract, the company has to demonstrate cargo delivery and crew transport to the ISS. The demonstration of the cargo and crew resupply will be conducted using the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, carried by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The Dragon Spacecraft is a ballistic, blunt-cone space capsule capable of carrying personnel and payload to and from LEO. The demonstration flights will be between 2009 and 2010. The final spaceflight, scheduled for 2010, will show Dragon’s capability to tie-up with the International Space Station.
[image top left: Successful Lauch of the SpaceX Falcon 1 in its fourth attempt. The Falcon 9 flight 4 was launched from Omelek Island in the Kwajalein Atoll, at 4:15 p.m. (PDT) / 23:15 (UTC), image courtesy: SpaceX ]
[image, bottom right:The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands vertical at Cape Canaveral, Florida. the vehicle integration was completed on December 30, 2008, image courtesy: SpaceX ]