SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket can carry nearly twice as much into orbit than was previously listed, according to an update on the company's website over the weekend.
The rocket, which has been used to send the Dragon spacecraft on cargo runs to the International Space Station and launch satellites into orbit, can now launch up to 50,265-pounds into low earth orbit, according to a tweet from CEO Elon Musk. The realization was determined after additional testing.
@lukealization No physical changes to the engine. This thrust increase is based on delta qual tests. It is just tougher than we thought.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 30, 2016
The new metrics are only for expendable missions, according to Musk, meaning rockets the company tries to land back on Earth will have to carry 30 to 40 percent less payload. SpaceX also says the Falcon 9 can carry up to 8,860-pounds of cargo to Mars.
The company gave an update on its Falcon Heavy rocket, which has yet to fly. The $90 million rocket, which has 27 Merlin engines, can launch up to 29,980-pounds on a journey to Mars. SpaceX announced last week the company is targeting its first Mars mission for 2018.