Spacex has successfully tested upgrades of nine Merlin 1D engines, arranged in their new octagonal placement on the core stage. This will increase the payload capability of the Falcon 9 to over 29,000 pounds to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Spacex confirmed on July 14, 2013.
“The booster’s nine Merlin 1D engines fired for approximately three minutes, simulating what the booster may experience in flight before stage separation.
“The recently tested booster is the first stage for SpaceX’s upcoming next-generation Falcon 9 demonstration flight for MDA and their CASSIOPE mission. The same updated design will apply to all Falcon 9 flights moving forward.
The new 43×17 foot diameter fairing – that will debut during the CASSIOPE mission – is also set to ship to the site shortly.
Mr. Mueller also noted that the debut v1.1 launch from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) is currently targeting September 5.
Octogonal engine configuration
Pending a successful mission with CASSIOPE, SpaceX will then move to the launch of what will be the debut launch of a geostationary satellite, with the launch of the SES-8 spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Completing what is hoped to be a busy period of launches for SpaceX and their new Falcon v1.1, the company plan to loft Commercial Launches for Orbcomm and Thailand’s Thai Comm.
The next Dragon spacecraft would then greet the upgraded Falcon 9 for their CRS-3 (SpX-3) mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which currently has a place-holder of December.
SOURCE – Nasaspaceflight.com