With SpaceX’s second Falcon I launch attempt on hold again (supposedly due to some people in the Kwajalein range safety group not being there during their launch window), I figured it would be worth mentioning a few short things I noticed from their website upgrade.
- Apparently starting in 2009, Falcon I is switching to the regen version of the Merlin engine. Also according to their site, this version has about 30% higher thrust, coming in at ~102klbf. The CAD picture they have on their website for the regen Merlin looks really darned cool. And I hate to admit it, but their regen cooled pintle engine does look sexier than ours.
- It looks as though they may have sorted out their supplier issues for Al-Li materials, because they are back to being listed as standard on the Falcon I upper stage, though it appears that Falcon IX is still planned to be Al 2219 for both stages. Between the higher thrust for Falcon I, and the lighter Al-Li tanks for the upper stage, predicted payload is back up into the 1500lb range, with price still in the $6.7M range.
- On their launch manifest, their first flight (back in Q1 2006) is amusingly listed as “completed”…Though they did include lots of info at the bottom of the section about the mishap. So not a snowjob, but definitely an interesting spin.
- They’re claiming about 250 employees, which actually isn’t a huge change from last time I heard numbers from them. They don’t seem to be ramping up employment quite as quickly as I had figured would be the case after winning one of the two COTS awards.
All in all, a rather cool new look for the site, with a little new information. Whoever they paid to do the site definitely knows how to pimp their rockets. Here’s to hoping that they can pull off a successful flight in the coming months, and that they can start matching their advertising (and website snazziness) with a solid and reliable track record.
Oh, and here’s to also hoping that at some point they can get a launch site that doesn’t jerk them around quite so much. If my previous articles are right, Wallops might be an option worth looking into.
Good luck guys!