The new rocket, called Falcon 9-Heavy, will have a lift off power of 17 meganewtons, which makes it the most powerful rocket since Saturn V, the "Moon Rocket". The rocket should be capable of putting 53 metric tonnes of payload into orbit, which is more than twice that of the space shuttle.
The CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk has also said that the rocket would be made safe enought to launch people. It is for example designed to meet NASA human rating safety standards. It has structural safety margins that are 40% above the actual flight loads.
The performance of the rocket could make more ambitious space missions beyond the ISS possible, although SpaceX has stressed that an even bigger rocket would be needed for any manned missions to Mars, as the equipment required for any such mission is far heavier.
|The Falcon 9-Heavy. (Image Credit: SpaceX)|
The first flight will take place in 2013 from Vandenberg Air Force Base with future missions also planned at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Animation of the Falcon 9-Heavy.