With most of the early flights going (relatively) well, SpaceX is now gearing up for full-on production of its new Falcon 9 rocket.
According to Space News, SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell announced that the company is transitioning from development and testing to the full-on mass production phase, in regard to its Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket is the flagship for SpaceX at the moment, and they’ve been using it for a while now to launch supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), satellites, etc. The company currently produces 6-8 rockets per year, and that number will more than triple to around 30 “cores” per year.
Ideally, that means they’ve worked out the kinks and they’re read to start cranking these things out. Moving forward, the company anticipates it could have a launch on the schedule every few weeks, shooting a couple of rockets per month on average.
Though the Falcon 9 is getting ready for production, that doesn’t mean SpaceX is resting on its laurels. Along with the Falcon 9, the company’s first Falcon Heavy rocket it set for a test launch later this year. If successful, it’ll be the strongest rocket on Earth “by a factor of two,” able to lift 53 metric tons into orbit.
It’s good news, because they’ll need all the rockets they can get, since SpaceX’s Dragon crew capsule is scheduled to start ferrying real, live astronauts to the ISS in 2017, finally ending the U.S.’s dependence on Russia for space transportation.