30 Sep 2013

New version of rocket launched by SpaceX

11:15 am on 30 September 2013

The SpaceX company has successfully launched a new version of its Falcon 9 rocket from California.

The vehicle, carrying the Canadian Cassiope research satellite, lifted clear of the Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9am on Sunday.

The BBC reports preliminary data indicated the desired orbit was achieved nine minutes later.

SpaceX said the updated rocket, known as Falcon 9v1.1, incorporates a number of modifications.

Its engines are 60% more powerful than previous versions, plus there are longer fuel tanks, new avionics, new software and other features intended to simplify operations for commercial service.

Assuming no anomalies are later identified, the BBC reports this should open the way for the new model to begin carrying satellites for the commercial sector.

In addition to the business that SpaceX already has with NASA to resupply the International Space Station, the company has a backlog of customers waiting for a Falcon to launch their spacecraft.