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[b]Announcing the Falcon V Launch Vehicle from SpaceX[/b]
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) today announced that it has a substantial upgrade to its Falcon rocket family under development and scheduled for completion in 2005.
Drawing from experience with the single engine Falcon I, being unveiled in Washington DC today, SpaceX is developing a five engine version that will be the first American rocket with true engine out safety in three decades. Depending upon the phase of flight, Falcon V will be capable of losing any three of the five engines and still complete its mission. Engine related problems are the overwhelming cause of launch vehicle failures.
Not since the Apollo program's Saturn V, developed over three decades ago, will there be this level of reliability available in the United States. Extremely rare among rockets, Saturn V had a flawless flight record, despite having an engine fail on two separate missions. Without engine out safety, the Apollo Moon program would have had two flight failures, possibly with tragic consequences.
The Falcon V also significantly increases the capability of the Falcon family, with a capacity of over 4.5 tons to low orbit and a 10 foot (3.05 meter) diameter payload fairing. The vehicle is also capable of launching missions to geostationary orbit and the inner solar system, as well as carrying supplies to the International Space Station with the addition of a lightweight automated transfer vehicle.
With firm contract pricing set at $12 million per flight (2003 dollars), the $1500 cost per pound to orbit will represent a new world record in the cost of access to space.
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