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The fourth time is a charm for SpaceX, after successfully launching a rocket into orbit

Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX, successfully launched a commercial rocket into orbit carrying a dummy payload.  On the company's fourth attempt, the Falcon I vehicle headed into space after launching from Omelek Island with a 364-pound dummy satellite.

SpaceX, backed by PayPal founder and Tesla Motors Chairman Elon Musk, wants to become the first company able to launch a privately developed rocket into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).  Musk hopes the company is one day able to carry supplies -- and even astronauts or space tourists -- into space and to the International Space Station (ISS).

"This really means a lot," Musk said after the successful launch.  "There's only a handful of countries on Earth that have done this.  It's usually a country thing, not a company thing.  We did it!"

Prior to the successful launch on Sunday, the latest attempt made it 135 miles above Earth's surface, but the rocket failed after the second stage was unable to separate from the first stage.  This time around, the aluminum chamber designed to mimic a satellite will stay attached to the two-stage rocket as it begins to orbit Earth.

The Falcon 9 rocket could help NASA take cargo and astronauts into orbit in the future, assuming SpaceX can continue its successful launches.  In addition, an injection of private capital makes it possible for SpaceX to keep attempting to prove the effectiveness of Falcon for one-tenth the total launch cost of commercial launches.

SpaceX plans to launch another Falcon 1 sometime in early 2009, with the Malaysian RazakSat satellite as its main cargo.  If all goes according to plan, a Falcon 9 launch is expected sometime next summer.

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By randomly on 9/30/2008 12:22:53 AM , Rating: 2
They have to word that 'first' carefully since Orbital Sciences was the first with a privately funded orbital launch vehicle. The Pegasus and Taurus are solid fuel designs though.

It's very impressive and I've been wishing them success. It's a very good day.

I only hope they can survive economically. OS was thinking they would be launching 50 times a year with the Pegasus when they developed it, it's in the same payload class as the Falcon 1. The reality of it turned out to be that the market was much smaller than anticipated and they only launch a few times a year.

The real deal will be getting the EELV class Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy going.

By rtrski on 9/30/2008 9:23:43 AM , Rating: 2
SpaceShipOne was the first nongovernmental manned ship "to space", but was not an "orbital" launch vehicle. I think they topped 100km altitude (suborbital, but well into what is considered "space"), while Falcon hit like 135 miles (~217km). And was unmanned, clearly.

Your point is well intended I think: both are firsts, but in very different categories, not much 'nuanced' language required.

I too am quite excited by their success. I hope the Falcon 9 and Heavy do well, and quickly - I'd much rather see them get the contract to recrew/resupply the ISS during the wait after the shuttles get mothballed than send the money to Putin.

By randomly on 9/30/2008 9:37:27 AM , Rating: 3
Suborbital only requires 1/40 the energy of an orbital flight. The difference is in the velocity, not the altitude. I was referring to Orbital Sciences Pegasus and Taurus launch vehicles, not the SpaceShip One. Both of which were orbital launch vehicles developed privately. They have roughly the same lift capacity as the Falcon 1.

They are however solid fuel designs, so to claim a first Spacex needs to include the 'first liquid fueled' in their statement.

Regardless of the technicalities though it's a major accomplishment and I look forward to the Falcon 9.

By rtrski on 9/30/2008 10:56:04 AM , Rating: 2
I'm horribly embarrassed - I totally forgot about Pegasus (although it's not ground-launched, it was indeed to orbit).

Taurus too - but was Taurus government funded, while SpaceX Falcon has been entirely private (corporate) funded? Now I'm not so sure where the line is. Liquid vs. solid may be it, after all...?

By mellomonk on 9/30/2008 10:57:05 AM , Rating: 3
The first that Space X is touting is that the falcon is an entirely new design and launches from the ground. Most of the other private ventures are based on military or governmental developed tech. The Orbital Sciences Pegasus is air launched making it flexible, but with a limited sized payload. Their Taurus launch vehicle is derived from the Minuteman ICBM I believe. Sea Launch is using Russian built Zenit launchers.

It is just semantics but Space X deserves some props for developing an all new design and doing it for a fraction of what the NASA or the DOD would have spent. Their Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy could really shake up the private launch business.

By rtrski on 9/30/2008 3:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the clarification!

By randomly on 10/1/2008 3:07:08 PM , Rating: 2
The first stage of the Taurus was based on the MX ICBM first stage motor design, but it's not quite the same. The Taurus upper stages are derived from the Pegasus.

Looks like...
By amanojaku on 9/29/2008 10:21:08 PM , Rating: 2
The mile-high club is gonna have to raise the bar.

RE: Looks like...
By Samus on 9/30/2008 2:17:09 AM , Rating: 2
makes you wonder if people have 'done it' in space yet. we've sent women up, even crazy boyfriend murder-attempting women, so its plausable :P

RE: Looks like...
By jadeskye on 9/30/2008 4:57:42 AM , Rating: 2
As a member of the mile high club i can tell you it's hard enough at 35,000 feet. i can't imagine how difficult it's gotta be without the help of gravity.

Think i'd rather wait till they invent artificial gravity.

RE: Looks like...
By ViroMan on 9/30/2008 6:26:22 AM , Rating: 1
how hard can it be? slap those tits and watch them keep bouncing around for 10 seconds. zero grav gives plenty of lift to those saggy parts.

RE: Looks like...
By Misty Dingos on 9/30/2008 7:41:01 AM , Rating: 4
The zero gravity environment that provides also has other "benefits". Without the effects of gravity on the human body fluids that are pulled into the legs and lower torso are evenly distributed. What this means is that women's breasts swell. I think that is a good thing. The bad thing is that it also causes sinus congestion.

The actual physical act would be no more difficult in zero gravity than it would be with gravity. The utter lack of privacy might be an issue though. I am certain that for some people that would also enhance the act.

RE: Looks like...
By Tsuwamono on 9/30/2008 12:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
I would think it would be easier actually... I always found it easier in a pool... that way nobody has to be held up.. Zero gravity means more energy for thrust instead of wasting energy holding one self up or your partner.

Caught it this AM
By Master Kenobi on 9/29/2008 9:40:33 PM , Rating: 2
Quite a feat for these guys, it looks like businesses are lining up to have satellites launched into orbit on their rockets. I do like the quote from their CEO saying that this was quite a kick to the balls to all the naysayers.

RE: Caught it this AM
By chmilz on 9/29/2008 11:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
Forget the naysayers. The entire nation of China is collectively holding their groins. They failed to pull off even a propaganda machine paper launch.

RE: Caught it this AM
By stromgald30 on 9/30/2008 2:14:53 AM , Rating: 2
A lot of businesses are lining up, but I think there's still more growing pains before they have even close to the reliability of US and Russian launchers.

However, with the limited throughput capability of our current launch programs, a cheap easy-to-build (relatively) launcher is exactly what's needed for all those little programs that usually don't get to fly. I'm glad they finally got one up, I'm not sure if the company could have survived one more failed launch.

By GrandMareg on 9/29/2008 9:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
Let the privatization of space begin. The coming years will be very fun to watch.

RE: Finally
By oab on 9/29/2008 11:30:06 PM , Rating: 2
Who knows, it might even become like the hyper-capitalistic society described in Eve (Online, the game).

RE: Finally
By Master Kenobi on 9/30/2008 7:19:22 AM , Rating: 2
I have considered that myself and it seems quite plausible.

Open a hailing frequency
By Bender 123 on 9/29/2008 10:12:44 PM , Rating: 4
As a last bit of magic, Scotty sent the technical schematics of the last failed launch to ground control and the correct phase inducers were placed in the new rocket...Aye, sir...

Dummy satellite
By 7Enigma on 9/30/2008 7:23:19 AM , Rating: 2
Bet the satellite suppliers of the last couple rockets are kicking themselves now they didn't put a real one on this latest rocket!

And to think we could have beamed Scotty's whole BODY up there intead of just his ashes....I weep.

RE: Dummy satellite
By Basilisk on 9/30/2008 9:35:14 AM , Rating: 2
If it only works launching dummies... how long 'til Washington volunteers Dubya? [me bad]

launch video
By kattanna on 9/30/2008 10:14:22 AM , Rating: 2
By Vokus on 10/4/2008 6:56:57 AM , Rating: 2

A small piece of my work is on that thing, I machines parts for that thing!!! Sweet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I cant believe it im only 19 years old and their are my parts on that rockets that went in to space!!!!!!


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