Falcon 1 Airplane Videos and Airplane Pictures

Falcon 1 Videos


SpaceX Falcon 1 Video - First launch

Falcon 1 Aircraft Information

Falcon 1

Falcon 1 rocket.

Manufacturer: SpaceX
Country of origin: United States
Height: 21.3 m (70 ft)
Diameter: 1.7 m (5.5 ft)
Mass: 38,555 kg (85,000 lb)
Stages: 2
Payload to LEO: 670 kg (1480 lb)
Payload to SSO: 430 kg (990 lb)
Launch history:
Status: Retired
Launch sites: Omelek Island Vandenberg AFB
Total launches: 5
Successes: 2
Failures: 3
Partial failures: 0
Maiden flight: March 24, 2006 22:30 GMT
First stage:
Engines: 1 Merlin 1C
Thrust: 454 kN (102,000 lbf)
Specific impulse: 255 s (sea level) (2.6 kN·s/kg)
Burn time: 169 seconds
Fuel: RP-1/LOX
Second stage:
Engines: 1 Kestrel
Thrust: 31 kN (7,000 lbf)
Specific impulse: 327 s (vacuum) (3.2 kN·s/kg))
Burn time: 378 seconds
Fuel: RP-1/LOX

The Falcon 1 is a partially reusable launch system designed and manufactured by SpaceX, a space transportation company in Hawthorne, California. The two-stage-to-orbit rocket uses LOX/RP-1 for both stages, the first powered by a single Merlin engine and the second powered by a single Kestrel engine. It was designed by SpaceX from the ground up and is the first successful fully liquid-propelled orbital launch vehicle developed with private funding.

The Falcon 1 achieved orbit on its fourth attempt, on 28 September 2008, with a mass simulator as a payload. On 14 July 2009, Falcon 1 successfully delivered the Malaysian RazakSAT satellite to orbit on SpaceX's first commercial launch (fifth launch overall). Following its fifth launch, the Falcon 1 was retired in favour of an enhanced variant, the Falcon 1e.


According to SpaceX, the Falcon 1 is designed to minimize price per launch for low-Earth-orbit satellites, increase reliability, and optimize flight environment and time to launch. It is also intended to verify components and structural design concepts that will be reused in the Falcon 9.

First stage

Airplane Picture - First-stage view of the Merlin engine.

Picture - First-stage view of the Merlin engine.

The first stage is made from friction-stir-welded aluminum alloy. It employs a common bulkhead between the LOX and RP-1 tanks, as well as flight pressure stabilization. It can be transported safely without pressurization (like the heavier Delta II isogrid design) but gains additional strength when pressurized for flight (like the Atlas II, which could not be transported unpressurized). The resulting design has the highest propellant mass fraction of any current first stage. The parachute system, built by Irvin Para­chute Corp­oration, uses a high-speed drogue chute and a main chute.

Second stage

The second stage tanks are built with a cryogenic-compatible aluminum-lithium alloy. The helium pressurization system pumps propellant to the engine, supplies pressurized gas for the attitude control thrusters, and is used for zero-g propellant accumulation prior to engine restart. The Kestrel engine includes a titanium heat exchanger to pass waste heat to the helium, thereby greatly extending its work capacity. The pressure tanks are made by Arde corporation and are the same as those used in the Delta IV. They consist of an inconel shell wrapped by a composite.


It is planned that the first stage will return by parachute to a water landing and be recovered for reuse but this has not yet been demonstrated. The second stage is not designed to be reusable.


At launch, the first stage engine (Merlin) is ignited and throttled to full power while the launcher is restrained and all systems are verified by the flight computer. If the systems are operating correctly, the rocket is released and clears the tower in about seven seconds. The first-stage burn lasts about 2:49 minutes. Stage separation is accomplished with explosive bolts and a pneumatically actuated pusher system.

The second stage Kestrel engine burns for about six minutes, inserting the payload into a low Earth orbit. It is capable of multiple restarts.

Private funding

The Falcon 1 rocket was developed with private funding. The only other orbital launch vehicle to be privately funded and developed is the Pegasus, first launched in 1990; however, it requires a large aircraft as its first stage. If recovery and reuse of the first stage is accomplished, Falcon 1 will become the second partially-reusable orbital rocket, and the first such to be developed without public funding.

While the development of Falcon 1 was privately funded, the first two Falcon 1 launches were purchased by the United States Department of Defense under a program that evaluates new US launch vehicles suitable for use by DARPA.


SpaceX is one of the few launch system operators that publishes its launch prices, which are quoted as being same for all customers. In 2005 Falcon 1 was advertised as costing $5.9 million ($6.4 million when adjusted for inflation in 2009). In 2006 until 2007 the quoted price of the rocket when operational was $6.7 million. In late 2009 SpaceX announced new prices for the Falcon 1 and 1e at $7 million and $8.5 million respectively, with small discounts available for multi-launch contracts.

As of the summer of 2010, the SpaceX website states that the Falcon 1 has been replaced by the Falcon 1e, with an "open and fixed" price of $10.9 million.

Launch sites

All flights have been launched from Kwajalein Atoll using the SpaceX launch facility on Omelek Island and range facilities of the Reagan Test Site. All upcoming Falcon 1 flights shown on the SpaceX manifest are also planned for Kwajalein. Other launch sites which have been discussed for Falcon 1 flights include:

Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 3W. According to Elon Musk, SpaceX may be evicted from Vandenberg because of safety concerns expressed by United Launch Alliance, which launches the Atlas V rocket from neighboring site SLC-3E.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40.


Launch history

As of 2009, the Falcon 1 has made five launches. The first three failed, however the subsequent two flights were successful, the first successful launch making it the first privately funded and developed liquid-propellent rocket to reach orbit. The fifth launch was its first commercial flight, and placed RazakSAT into low Earth orbit.

As part of the $15 million contract, Falcon 1 was to carry the TacSat-1 in 2005. By late May 2005, SpaceX was ready to launch TacSat-1 from Vandenberg, but the Air Force did not want the launch to occur until the final Titan 4 flew from nearby SLC 4E. Subsequent and repeated delays due to Falcon 1 launch failures delayed TacSat-1's launch. After TacSat-2 was launched on an Orbital Sciences Minotaur I on December 16, 2006, the Department of Defense re-evaluated the need for launching TacSat-1. In August 2007, the Department of Defense canceled the planned launch of TacSat-1 because all of the TacSat objectives had been met.

Comparison of small lift launch systems
Falcon 9

Further reading

Ray, Justin (19 December 2005). "Damage puts first SpaceX rocket launch on hold". Spaceflight Now. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon/f1/051219damage.html.
"SpaceX rocket fails first flight". BBC News. 24 March 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4698736.stm.

Falcon 1 Pictures

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Source: WikiPedia

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