SpaceX's testing program demonstrated a ratio of 4:1 for critical engine life parameters such as firing duration and restart capacity to the engine's expected flight requirements. The industry standard is 2:1.
The Merlin 1D has a vacuum thrust-to-weight ratio exceeding 150, the best of any liquid rocket engine in history. This enhanced design makes the Merlin 1D the most efficient booster engine ever built, while still maintaining the structural and thermal safety margins needed to carry astronauts.
Additionally, the new engine is designed for improved manufacturability by using higher efficiency processes, increased robotic construction and reduced parts count. (SpaceX)
MCGREGOR (March 20, 2013)—SpaceX, the private Hawthorne, Calif. space flight company, which operates a test facility in McGregor, says its next generation Merlin 1D engine is now flight-qualified and ready for use to propel its Falcon 9 rocket later this year.
The completion of the 28-test qualification program represents a major milestone for the engine, SpaceX said Wednesday.
“The Merlin 1D successfully performed every test throughout this extremely rigorous qualification program,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and chief designer.
“With flight qualification now complete, we look forward to flying the first Merlin 1D engines on Falcon 9’s Flight 6 this year.”
The new and improved engine builds on the technology of the engines used on the first five flights of the Falcon 9.