Falcon 5

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Falcon 5
SpaceX falcon v.png
Early Falcon 5 design
FunctionHuman-rated re-usable orbital launch vehicle
Country of originUnited States
Height29 m (95 ft)
Diameter3.65 m (12 ft)
Mass155,000 kg (340,000 lb)
Payload to LEO4,200 kg (9200 lb) at 200 km orbit 28 degree inclination
Payload to
Geosynchronous transfer orbit
1,250 kg (2,750 lb) 9 degree inclination
Launch history
Launch sitesSLC-3W Vandenberg AFB
Omelek Island
SLC-36 Cape Canaveral
Kodiak Island
Wallops Island
First stage
Engines5 Merlin
Thrust1,890 kN (425,000 lbf)
Specific impulseSea level: 255 sec (2.6 kN/kg)
Vacuum: 304 sec (3.0 kN/kg)
Burn time200 seconds
Second stage
Engines1 Merlin
Thrust409 kN (93,000 lbf)
Specific impulseVacuum: 304 sec (3.0 kN/kg)
Burn time265 seconds

The Falcon 5 was a proposed two-stage-to-orbit partially reusable launch vehicle designed by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., doing business as SpaceX, since canceled in preference of the larger, more powerful Falcon 9.[1]


The first stage of Falcon 5 was to be powered by five Merlin engines and the upper stage by one Merlin engine, both burning RP-1 with a liquid oxygen oxidizer. Along with the Falcon 9, it would have been the world's only launch vehicle with all stages designed for reuse.[2]

The Falcon 5 would have been the first American rocket since the Saturn V to have full engine out capability, meaning that with the loss of one engine, it can still meet mission requirements by burning the other four engines longer to achieve the correct orbit.[3] In comparison, the Space Shuttle only had partial engine out capability, meaning it may not be able to achieve proper orbit by burning the remaining engines longer.[3]

Launcher versions[edit]

In 2006, SpaceX stated that the Falcon 5 was a Falcon 9 with four engines removed.[3] Since the launchers were being co-developed, work on the Falcon 9 was also applicable to the Falcon 5.[3]

Version Falcon 5
Stage 0
Stage 1 5 × Merlin 1C
Stage 2 1 × Merlin 1C
(max; m)
Initial thrust
Takeoff weight
Fairing diameter
(Inner; m)
3.6 or 5.2 (large fairing)
(LEO; kg)
(GTO; kg)
(Mil. USD)
minimal Price/kg
minimal Price/kg
Success ratio

Sources for this table are from Space Launch Report and SpaceX and footnoted here. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

Payload capabilities[edit]

  • LEO, 200 km (120 mi), 28 degrees:        4,100 kg (9,000 lb)[1]
  • GTO, 36,000 km (22,000 mi) 9 degrees: 1,050 kg (2,310 lb)[3]

Related launch vehicle plans[edit]

Although an original Falcon 5 was never built, in December 2011 Stratolaunch Systems announced that they planned to develop a four- or five-engine Falcon 9-derivative two-stage liquid-fueled air-launched launch vehicle to be developed by SpaceX.[9] The launch vehicle was planned to be "along the lines of the company's Falcon 4 [sic] or Falcon 5,"[10] and was to have been capable of launching a 6,100 kilograms (13,500 lb) payload into low earth orbit.[11]

The air-launched rocket concept was eventually named the Falcon 9 Air, and was being designed to have only four Merlin 1D engines. However, development was halted in late 2012 when SpaceX and Stratolaunch "amicably agreed to end [their] contractual relationship because the [Stratolaunch] launch vehicle design [had] departed significantly from the Falcon derivative vehicle envisioned by SpaceX and does not fit well with [SpaceX's] long-term strategic business model."[12]


  1. ^ a b Kyle, Ed (5 July 2010). "SpaceX Falcon Data Sheet". Space Launch Report. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
  2. ^ "SpaceX announces the Falcon 9 fully reusable heavy lift launch vehicle" (Press release). SpaceX. 8 September 2005. Archived from the original on 26 March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Wade, Mark. "Falcon 5". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 1 December 2011. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
  4. ^ "SpaceX Falcon Data Sheet". Space Launch Report. 5 July 2007.
  5. ^ "Monster Progress Update (Mostly Falcon 9)". SpaceX. 17 August 2007.
  6. ^ "Falcon 1 Overview". SpaceX. 28 September 2007. Archived from the original on 14 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Falcon 9 Overview". SpaceX. 28 September 2007. Archived from the original on 1 December 2011.
  8. ^ "Falcon 9 Heavy Overview". SpaceX. 28 September 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  9. ^ Bergin, Chris (13 December 2011). "Stratolaunch introduce Rutan designed air-launched system for Falcon rockets". NASAspaceflightnow.com. Archived from the original on 14 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
  10. ^ Chow, Denise (13 December 2011). "Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Unveils Giant Plane for Private Space Launches". Space.com. New York. Archived from the original on 14 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
  11. ^ Mecham, Michael (13 December 2011). "Stratolaunch Aims to Break Affordability Barrier". Aviation Week. New York. Retrieved 2011-12-14.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Rosenberg, Zach (27 November 2012). "Stratolaunch and SpaceX part ways". Flight Global. Retrieved 2012-11-29.

See also[edit]