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5 fun facts about the Falcon 9
A game-changer in the space arena, Falcon 9’s maiden flight in June 2010 was the first of close to 80 launches to date that would revolutionise commercial space travel as we know it.
Fast-forward almost a decade on and the rocket has lowered barriers to entry by paving the way for unrivalled access to space exploration as well as reducing costs exponentially – largely due to its rocket reutilisation capabilities.
We take a look at a few facts about this modern technological marvel below:
How did it get its name?
It will come as no surprise to most that SpaceX’s founder Elon Musk is a stereotypical full-fledged sci-fi geek at heart.
The Falcon series was named after the Millennium Falcon made famous by the ever-popular fictional Star Wars series – with the ‘9’ in this instance paying homage to the nine Merlin engines that power the rocket’s first stage.
How much does each launch actually cost?
Many are aware that space travel is an expensive endeavour – a fact that has raised barriers to entry considerably in the past.
Exactly how much does each launch cost? As of 2016, a new launch would come with a price tag of US$62M with a reutilised one reducing costs to US$50M by 2019. These figures will only fall over the course of the next several years with space travel already becoming progressively open to private enterprise.
How are payloads launched into orbit?
The best way to answer this question is to see the whole process as two separate stages.
In stage one, nine Merlin engines launch the rocket into outer space, with thrusts increasing with altitude. In the second stage, a single Merlin vacuum engine thrusts accompanying multiple payloads into different orbits. This process can be restarted multiple times to place multiple payloads into different orbits.
What about the Falcon Heavy that we hear so much about?
Falcon 9’s behemoth successor is currently the world’s most powerful operational rocket, made up of three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, promising a heady five million pounds of thrust.
Even more exciting for the space industry is the fact that this rocket can carry a payload size of up to a whopping 63,800 kilograms (that’s like the weight of 12 fully-grown elephants)- opening up the playing field for smaller players in the space industry (attaching their payloads to the rocket) even further.
When is the next launch and how can I get in on some of the action?
For most of us that can’t make it to Falcon 9’s next launch in early December, we can still access a live telecast here.
The SpaceChain team will be in attendance in Florida, where the launch will take place from the Kennedy Space Center. Follow us on Twitter for live updates and an announcement on the launch date date and time.
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