Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat
Not sure of you guys know this but F9 has been upgraded to a new version that will take over at COTS flight 5. Weight improvement to 16,000kg from 10,400 to LEO.
Falcon 9 V1.1
Question: Can you describe what modifications you're making to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral?
Musk: The extension to the existing hangar is for payload processing and it's also for Falcon 9 version 1.1, which is longer. It's about 50 percent longer than version 1. We need a little bit of extra length and some extra facilities for the satellites that are coming.
[NOTE: Falcon 9 v1.1 is an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 rocket with more powerful Merlin 1D engines and lengthened propellant tanks. It will also be the core for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, a colossal booster formed from three first stages strapped together. Falcon Heavy's first test launch is expected as soon as mid-2013.]
Question: When will the first Falcon 9 v1.1 fly?
Musk: We'll certainly be vertical on the pad at Vandenberg [Air Force Base in California] by the end of the year. Launch could be early next year. The launch date depends on how the final phase of testing goes for the next-generation Falcon 9.
Question: What payloads will fly on Falcon 9 v1.1?
Musk: The next version of Falcon 9 will be used for everything. The last flight of version 1.0 will be Flight 5. All future missions after Flight 5 will be v1.1. We've got this mission, which is Flight 3. And we've two CRS [Commercial Resupply Services] missions, Flight 4 and Flight 5, which will fly Version 1.0. Then all future missions, CRS or otherwise, will fly Version 1.1.