SpaceX Falcon 9

The SpaceX Falcon 9 is a partially reusable two-stage-to-orbit medium-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX. The latest version of the first stage can return to Earth and be flown again multiple times. Both the first and second stages are powered by SpaceX Merlin engines, using cryogenic liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) as propellants. Since the introduction of the Full Thrust version, Falcon 9 is partially reusable, with the first stage capable of re-entering the atmosphere and landing vertically after separating from the second stage. This feat was achieved for the first time in December 2015. Since then, SpaceX has successfully landed boosters over a hundred times, with individual first stages flying as many as twelve times. Falcon 9 has the most launches among all U.S. rockets currently in operation and set a new record for the most satellites launched by a single rocket carrying 143 satellites into orbit.

The Falcon 9 won a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract in NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) using the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule. The first mission under this contract launched on 8 October 2012. Falcon 9 has been human-rated for transporting NASA astronauts to the ISS as part of the NASA Commercial Crew Development program.

SpaceX Dragon capsule launched on Falcon 9 is the only U.S. rocket fully certified for transporting humans to the International Space Station, and the only commercial rocket to launch humans to orbit.