The Falcon 9 rocket is a commercial medium-to-heavy launch vehicle built and flown by SpaceX. It is designed inexpensive, reliable, and partially reusable transportation to low-Earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The Falcon 9 can carry up to 22,800 kg to LEO, 5,070kg to GTO, and up to 4,020 kg on an Earth-escape trajectory. The more powerful Falcon Heavy is designed to carry up to 54,400 kg to LEO, 22,200 kg to GTO, and 13,600 kg on an escape trajectory. SpaceX launches Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex (SLC) 40 and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Launch Complex (LC) 39A as well as Vandenberg Air Force Base's SLC-4.
Falcon 9, first flown in 2010, is a two-stage rocket with nine SpaceX-manufactured Merlin 1D engines and a single vacuum-rated Merlin 1D on its upper stage. On May 25, 2012, SpaceX launched its Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, marking the first time a commercial spacecraft had docked with the station. On December 21, 2015, SpaceX first successfully demonstrated the return and vertical soft landing of a Falcon 9 first stage. On March 30, 2017, SpaceX successfully flew a previously flown first stage. On November 19, 2017, NASA gave approval for SpaceX to use reused Falcon 9 first stages on its Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) missions to ISS.
The Falcon Heavy comprises a Falcon 9 core stage and upper stage plus two Falcon 9 stages as boosters, comprising a total of 27 engines and two and a half stages at liftoff. Falcon Heavy's first launch is currently scheduled for early 2018. While the first Falcon Heavy will not have an official payload, Elon Musk joked online that he would send his Tesla Roadster to Mars orbit. Musk has stated that SpaceX's in-development Big F---ing Rocket (BFR) would "make our current vehicles" (Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy) redundant."
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