For those of you who did not watch it, or possibly for some of those who did but are not familiar with the issues, Elon has just blown the launch industry as we know it to smithereens.
Falcon Heavy is bigger than I thought. It is 53 metric tons to LEO, for about $100M per launch. Elon expects to fire off 10 Heavy’s and 10 F9’s per year from Cape Canaveral by mid decade, but can hold the price per pound on an FH to $1000/pound at as low a rate as 4 FH/year. They will be launching twice the payload for one third the cost of the largest commercial rockets presently available (the Delta 4 for example).
SpaceX is currently producing 50-60 Merlin engines per year, which is more than all other engines built in the US per year; when they are flying the new rocket they will be producing 400 of a more capabile Merlin 1d per year, which will be more than all other engines produced on the planet.
The rocket is designed to exceed all current NASA standards for man-rating, with 40% margin above expected flight loads. They will have the capability to launch a Dragon capsule on a lunar loop mission with a single FH. The Dragon capsule will be deep space capable so they are a long way towards taking over the exploration of space from the fossil-space industry.
The first launch will occur perhaps in 2013 (I had trouble hearing him) with no customer satellite, although someone might come forward later to take a cut rate flight.
These are heady and exciting times we live in.