SpaceX’s new engine, the Merlin 1D, has been qualified for spaceflight in advance of its first launch. The engine, a heavily modified version of the Merlin 1C that powers SpaceX’s standard Falcon 9, will be utilised on what SpaceX dubs the “Falcon 9 version 1.1”, scheduled for its first launch in June. The Merlin series uses rocket propellant (RP-1) and liquid oxygen. The Falcon 9.1.1 will be able to launch 25.8% more payload to low earth orbit than the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9.1.1 will reduce the price to LEO to $4109 per kilogram ($1870 per pound).
The Spacex Falcon Heavy will also use the Merlin 1D and will bring costs down below $1000 per pound to LEO.
The Merlin 1D puts out 147,000lb (654kN) of thrust to the 1C’s 110,000lb. Nine of the engines power the first stage, and a single vacuum-capable engine powers the upper stage.
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