Here is the update, just emailed from Elon:
FALCON 1 MAIDEN FLIGHT
This Friday at 1 p.m. PST (9 p.m. GMT), the Falcon 1 countdown to launch is expected to reach T-Zero. At that point, the hold-down clamps will release and it will begin its journey to orbit, accelerating to 17,000 mph or twenty-five times the speed of sound in less than ten minutes.
The launch will take place from Omelek island, which is in the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. This mission's customer is DARPA and the Air Force and the payload will be FalconSat-2, part of the Air Force Academys satellite program that will measure space plasma phenomena, which can adversely affect space-based communications, including GPS and other civil and military communications. The target orbit is 400 km X 500 km, just above the International Space Station, at an inclination of 39 degrees.
On launch day, SpaceX will make history for several reasons:
- Falcon 1 will be the first privately developed, liquid fueled rocket to reach orbit and the world's first all new orbital rocket in over a decade.
- The main engine of Falcon 1 (Merlin) will be the first all new American hydrocarbon booster engine to be flown in forty years and only the second new American booster engine of any kind in twenty-five years.
- The Falcon 1 is the only rocket flying 21st century avionics, which require a small fraction of the power and mass of other systems.
- It will be the world's only semi-reusable orbital rocket apart from the Shuttle (all other launch vehicles are completely expendable).
- The Falcon 1 first stage has the highest propellant mass of any launch vehicle currently flying.
- SpaceX will have developed and activated two new launch sites, including the only American ground launch site near equator.
- Most importantly, Falcon 1, priced at $6.7 million, will provide the lowest cost per flight to orbit of any launch vehicle in the world, despite receiving a design reliability rating equivalent to that of the best launch vehicles currently flying in the US.
We have done everything we can think of at SpaceX to ensure reliability, which is our primary goal, superceding cost. There were no shortcuts and when we needed to take extra time to test something, we did so even if it caused a significant delay. However, even multi-billion dollar programs executed conscientiously, such as the Ariane V, the Space Shuttle and the Delta IV Heavy, have had failures and it is certainly possible that will happen with the Falcon 1 too.
To prepare for this possibility, the first flight is highly instrumented with one megabit of realtime telemetry and a live video feed streaming back to the launch control center. If something goes wrong, we will discover and fix the problem, returning to the launch pad for flight two as soon as the solution is thoroughly tested.
--- Elon ---Click here for more Falcon 1 maiden launch information