"In terms of overall design maturity of the Falcon 9 project, we are well ahead of the curve for a program of this size," said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. "Few CDRs feature multiple hardware items in fabrication, assembly, integration and test phases."
The Dragon spacecraft is designed to transport up to seven astronauts, as well as both pressurized and unpressurized cargo, to Earth orbit and back. The architecture allows for berthing/docking with the International Space Station, as well as private space stations that may come into being such as those of Bigelow Aerospace.
As part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS)competition, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 with a cargo carrying Dragon spacecraft on a series of three demonstration missions to the International Space Station, culminating with the delivery of supplies to the $100-billion dollar orbiting laboratory. SpaceX intends to demonstrate its launch, maneuvering, berthing and return abilities by 2009 -- a year before NASA has scheduled the conclusion of Space Shuttle operations.
Falcon 1 launched [video] on Omelek Island, Kwajalein Atoll March 20, 2007.