Space X, the private launch company that successfully launched their Falcon 1 rocket into orbit last year, just revealed that their next generation rocket, the Falcon 9, is now vertical at NASA's Cape Canaveral!
Gotta love the imagery there.
The Falcon 9 is a heavy lift vehicle, capable of launching more than 12 tons to low Earth orbit, or 5 tons to an elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbit (the payload itself has to have a rocket onboard to circularize the orbit). To give you an idea of what you're seeing in the picture above, here is an older shot of a quarter-section of the fairing, the broad payload section on the top of the rocket:
Now you might start to understand why I'm getting excited by all this. That fairing is 5.2 meters across and nearly 14 long. It'll hold a nice size payload. Space X is one of two companies to which NASA gave a substantial chunk of cash, to carry the space agency through the post-Shuttle era.
And now that rocket is assembled and waiting in Florida. There is still no word from the company when it will launch on its flight, but word on the street at Kennedy is that people are buzzing over the rocket. It must be quite a sight there. As soon as I hear more I'll be posting about it!Photos courtesy Space X.