Built on the belief that Rocket re-usability is the key aspect to access space at low costs, Falcon 9 of the Falcon family has been named the first ever reusable orbit-class rocket. Unlike its sister vehicle, Falcon 1 that witnessed several failed attempts before its successful launch in September 2008, the more evolved Falcon 9 has proven to be far more successful and advanced through its successful launch into an orbit in its first attempt.
The Falcon 9 Vehicle stands out from other launch vehicles due to its usage of 9 first stage engines clustered together. This is used as a backup in an event of engine failure. Even if two engines shut down during flight, the Falcon 9 will still complete its mission. Falcon 9 has also qualified to be the first commercial Launch vehicle to visit the International Space Station. The vehicle built under the need for reusability recently achieved its goal when it delivered a reused spaceship, Dragon Spacecraft to the International Space Station in December 2017.
Falcon-9 Versions Falcon V1.0 - (Status-Retired) The development of Falcon v1.0 started off as an expendable launch vehicle. After five successful flights after its first launch in 2010 it retired in 2013. With a success ratio of 5/5, Falcon 9 v1.0 like a standard Falcon 9 launch vehicle employed 9 merlin rocket engines for the first stage with a thrust of 556kN produced per engine. The second stage was powered by a Merlin Vacuum engine for a burn time of about 6 minutes. The Reaction Control System (RCS) was used in the second stage for controlling the altitude and orientation of the vehicle. Cause for termination: Failed attempts of recovery of boosters using the parachute approach led to the adoption of a new design that aimed at making the system a more reusable one.
Falcon 9 v1.1 - (Status-Retired) The Falcon 9 v1. 1 followed modification from its previous version aiming for first-stage boost back. Modifications: Heavier Rockets with more thrust (5800 kN) Octaweb Structure for engine arrangement. Source: wikipedia.org Higher thrust to lift has increased the payload capacity from 9000 to 13000 kg. Easy Stage separation due to reduction in the number of attachment points. Use of four landing legs made of carbon fibers and aluminum honeycomb structures for later flights. Falcon 9 Full Thrust - (Status- Active) Overview: Full thrust orbital class launch vehicle to achieve vertical landing of first- stage booster. It uses reusable launch vehicles to deliver new payloads. The upgradation was aimed at providing booster reusability for missions that included placing communication satellites in Geosynchronous orbits. High degree of reliability since mission can be continued even if any of its first stage engine fails mid-flight. Modifications: Cryogenic Cooling of Propellant increases its density. Greater the density, greater the mass and hence the thrust produced. This being the modification in the Full thrust version followed a thrust hike of about 17% I.e, 6000- 7000 kN of thrust was generated. Increase in performance due to measures taken to increase thrust. The material for grid fins (rocket flight Control Surfaces) were upgraded from aluminum to titanium to manage heat issues during re-entry. Development of stage and booster reusability for addressing the all-time 100% reusability concern