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All you need to know about SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and its payload capacity to Mars


SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is the first orbital class rocket capable of reflight. It is a two-stage, reusable rocket which can transport both astronauts and payloads into Earth’s orbit and beyond. It can deliver payloads to Lower Earth Orbit(LEO), Geostationary Transfer Orbit(GTO) and even to Mars. The rocket has done a total of 256 launches.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (Craig Bailey/Florida Today via AP)(AP)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (Craig Bailey/Florida Today via AP)(AP)

Falcon 9 is 70 metres in length and has a diameter of 3.7 metres. It is capable of delivering a payload of 4020 kg to Mars. The rocket can transport payloads weighing 22,800 kg to LEO and 8300 kg to GTO.

The rocket is powered by Merlin engines. The engines use rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen as rocket propellants.

The two-stages of Falcon 9 rocket are simply called first stage and second stage. The first stage and second stage are connected through a structure called the interstage.

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Falcon 9 first stage

Falcon 9’s first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines. The rocket propellants namely rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen are stored in aluminum-lithium alloy tanks inside the first stage. The propellants help it generate more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust at sea level.

The first stage is fully reusable, thereby reducing massive costs of space exploration. The reusability is possible thanks to the first stage’s landing legs. The four landing legs are made of carbon fiber with aluminum honeycomb.

Falcon 9 second stage

The second stage is powered by a single Merlin Vacuum Engine. This stage is responsible for the safe delivery of payload which may contain astronauts.

This stage comes into action after the first stage separates from the rocket. Remarkably, the engine in this stage can be restarted multiple times to place multiple payloads into different orbits.


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