I am really busy planning a trip to a technical Interchange Meeting in San Diego real soon, but I couldn't let this go by. Here is the announcement:
SpaceX today announced its new launch vehicle, the Falcon 9, an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) class vehicle. With up to a 17 ft (5.2 m) diameter fairing, Falcon 9 is capable of launching approximately 21,000 lbs (9,500 kg) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in its medium configuration and 55,000 lbs (25,000 kg) to LEO in its heavy configuration, a lift capacity greater than any other launch vehicle. In the medium configuration, Falcon 9 is priced at $27 million per flight with a 12 ft (3.6 m) fairing and $35 million with a 17 ft fairing. Prices include all launch range and third party insurance costs, making Falcon 9 the most cost efficient vehicle in its class worldwide.
Now you can look at RLV & Space Transport News or Selenian Boondocks for technical and political ramifications, but what I think is cool is the reuse Elon is getting. He is taking the same engine and material structures and making a little rocket, a medium rocket, and a heavy rocket. That is agile. (Bet you knew it would come around to that -djs)
Imagine if your car could be a tiny compact that gets 80mpg but when you need the power, you drop 8 more engines in and change out the cab and you have a 4x4 2 ton pickup. That is a handy engineering feat.
Update: 10:42pm CST - Daniel Schmelzer has some thoughts on the Falcon IX as well at Carried Away.