In January 2004 Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) announced the details of a substantial upgrade to its Falcon rocket family under development and scheduled for completion in 2005. Drawing from experience with the single engine Falcon 1, at that time due to launch in mid 2004, SpaceX was developing a 5 engine version that would be the first American rocket with true engine out reliability in 3 decades. The Falcon 5 significantly increased the capability of the Falcon family, with a capacity of over 9,200 pounds to low orbit and up to a 13.1 foot (4 meter) diameter payload fairing.
The larger Falcon 5 was to use 5 SpaceX-developed Merlin engines in the first stage with an engine-out capability to enhance reliability. The second stage would use one Merlin engine, instead of 2 Kestrel engines as previously planned.
The first Falcon 5 launch was pushed back to an expected launch in mid-2006 from Vandenberg AFB. For subsequent Falcon 5 flights, SpaceX was developing the Merlin 2 engine, which was expected to enable greater lift capacity, up to 6,020 kilograms (13,274 pounds) to LEO.
On 18 August 2006 NASA selected SpaceX, El Segundo, California and Rocketplane-Kistler, Oklahoma City, to develop and demonstrate commercial orbital transportation services that could open new markets and pave the way for contracts to launch and deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station. NASA and the 2 companies signed Space Act Agreements that established milestones and objective criteria to assess their progress throughout Phase 1 of the competition. Once a capability was demonstrated, NASA planned to purchase crew and cargo delivery services competitively in Phase 2. "These companies were selected from a total of 20 applicants, based on solid engineering of innovative concepts and sound business plans," said Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston.
As of 2010, the Falcon 5 was not listed on SpaceX's website, suggesting that they had decided instead to focus on a heavy variant of their Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
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