The name Falcon is a reference to the Millennium Falcon from the popular Star Wars movie franchise. Falcon is offered in two configurations, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. The numerical designation in Falcon 9 references the number of engines used in the launch vehicle. Individual vehicles will be assigned a build number based on manufacturing sequence and a flight number based on manifest sequence. Falcon 9’s first stage incorporates nine Merlin engines and aluminum-lithium alloy tanks containing liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellant. Falcon Heavy uses the Falcon 9 architecture with three cores containing nine Merlin engines each making up the first stage. The side cores, or boosters are connected to the nosecone, the interstage, and on the octaweb. Shortly after liftoff the center core engines are throttled down. After the side cores separate, the center core engines throttle back up to full thrust. Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy share a similar interstage and second stage, powered by a single Merlin vacuum engine. The interstage is a composite structure that connects the first and second stages, and houses the pneumatic pushers that allow the first and second stage to separate during flight. The second stage engine ignites a few seconds after stage separation, and can be restarted multiple times to place multiple payloads into different orbits. The interstage is equipped with four hypersonic grid fins positioned at the base of the interstage. They orient the rocket during reentry by moving the center of pressure. Individual vehicles will be assigned a build number based on manufacturing sequence and a flight number based on manifest sequence.
The development of the original Falcon launch vehicle was fully funded to first launch by private investment, primarily by founder Elon Musk, who made his fortune in Internet start-up firms, including Zip 2 (launched in 1995) and X.com (founded in 1999, which later became PayPal). In 2002 Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX.
The cost of the development program has not been formally disclosed by SpaceX, but estimates of up to $50 million have been published in press reports.
The standard price for Falcon 9 is $62 million. Additional pricing information can be found at www.spacex.com/about/capabilities. Pricing includes range services, standard payload integration and third-party liability insurance. Nonstandard services are also available.
The standard price for Falcon Heavy is $90 million. Additional pricing information can be found at www.spacex.com/about/capabilities. Pricing includes range services, standard payload integration and third-party liability insurance. Nonstandard services are also available.
To date (April 2021) there have been 92 total launches of Falcon 9, with 53 total landings and 38 reflown rockets. There have been 3 launches of Falcon Heavy, with 7 total landings and 4 reflown rockets.
SpaceX launch services are offered at its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Kennedy Space Center, and Vandenberg Air Force Base launch sites. Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy can launch multiple satellites on a single mission, with the customer responsible for the integration of the multiple payloads. As a liquid-propellant launch vehicle with restart capability, Falcon 9 provides the flexibility to deploy each satellite into a different orbit, performance allowing. The Falcon 9 has successfully demonstrated this capability with the Starlink satellite constellation.