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SpaceX Falcon 1 on Launch Pad  (Source: SpaceX)
Falcon 1 Flight 3 experienced an "anomaly" two minutes into flight

Saturday August 2, 2008 was the launch date for SpaceX's third attempt to launch a privately funded rocket into space. Falcon 1 Flight 3 launched from the Kwajalein Atoll located about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii.

According to the New York Times, Falcon 1 Flight 3 failed to reach orbit. Reports say that around two minutes into the flight the rocket was seen to be oscillating before the live signal from an on-board camera went dead and the rocket was lost.

Mission Manager Max Vozoff and launch commentator said, "We are hearing from the launch control center that there has been an anomaly on that vehicle." SpaceX's Elon Musk wrote in a blog post on Saturday at the SpaceX website, "It was obviously a big disappointment not to reach orbit on this flight [Falcon 1, Flight 3].  On the plus side, the flight of our first stage, with the new Merlin 1C engine that will be used in Falcon 9, was picture perfect.  Unfortunately, a problem occurred with stage separation, causing the stages to be held together.  This is under investigation and I will send out a note as soon as we understand exactly what happened."

Musk continued writing, "The most important message I’d like to send right now is that SpaceX will not skip a beat in execution going forward.  We have flight four of Falcon 1 almost ready for flight and flight five right behind that.  I have also given the go ahead to begin fabrication of flight six.  Falcon 9 development will also continue unabated, taking into account the lessons learned with Falcon 1.  We have made great progress this past week with the successful nine engine firing."

Falcon 1 Flight 3 is not the first failure for SpaceX. DailyTech reported in March 2006 that the first Falcon 1 flight failed 20 seconds after liftoff. It was later determined that the failure of the rocket was due to a fuel line leak. In March 2007, DailyTech reported that the second Falcon 1 flight had failed about five minutes into launch.

The payload on Falcon 1 Flight 3 was varied and included the Trailblazer satellite developed for the Jumpstart Program from the Department of Defense's Operationally Responsive Space ORS Office. Two small NASA satellites were also onboard Falcon 1 Flight 3 including PRESat -- a micro laboratory for the Ames Research Center -- and the NanoSail-D -- a test project to study propulsion for space vehicles using an ultra-thin solar sail.

The New York Times reports that the rocket was also carrying the ashes of 208 people who wished to be shot into space. Among the cremated remains were those of astronaut Gordon Cooper and actor James Doohan of Star Trek fame.

SpaceX's Falcon 1 launch facilities are on Omelek Island and part of the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at the United States Army Kwajalein Atoll in the Central Pacific. SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket was designed from the ground up  in Hawthorne, California and is a two-stage, liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene powered vehicle.

SpaceX says that the first stage of the Falcon 1 is powered by a single SpaceX Merlin 1C Regenerative engine and the engine was flying for the first time aboard Falcon 1 Flight 3. The second stage of Falcon 1 is powered by a SpaceX Kestrel engine.



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Ouch
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/4/2008 2:19:17 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The New York Times reports that the rocket was also carrying the ashes of 208 people who wished to be shot into space.


Ouch...there goes that plan.

But seriously, you gotta appreciate SpaceX's determination and effort. Its good to see private companies trying to get involved in the space industry.

Let's just hope they don't try to send any human passengers on any of their flights...

I guess it makes you appreciate Virgin Galactic and Spaceship One just a little bit more.




RE: Ouch
By Ringold on 8/4/2008 3:48:36 PM , Rating: 2
And these guys:

http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/

quote:
Sundancer, planned for launch early in the next decade, will be the first module built by Bigelow Aerospace capable of manned operation. It would support a crew of up to three for varying mission durations and eventually provide the backbone for the first commercial space station. It follows the successful and continuing missions of the unmanned Genesis I and Genesis II, which continue to test and verify systems for future commercial space habitats.


Yes, I'm a Bigelow Aero fanboy. :) I know launch systems are required to get up there, but the idea that we can get a space station together with a price tag not in the many billions, like the ISS boondoggle, is exciting to me.

From earlier this year:

quote:
The Atlas booster has been used for decades to launch government and commercial payloads to a wide range of orbits and its reliability record is at the top of the space industry. As the simplest, most robust, and most reliable version of the Atlas V family, the 401 configuration has been selected by Bigelow to launch its space complex. This launch vehicle, compliant with the Federal Aviation Administration's stringent requirements for unmanned spaceflight, will undergo modest system upgrades that will augment existing safety features prior to flying the first passengers. During the operational phase, which is currently planned to begin in 2012, up to 12 missions per year are envisioned, increasing as demand dictates.


I'll point out that, in 2012, Orion will still be a 3+ year distant dream. The private industry may manage to literally go from almost nonexistant to regular service to a new space station in less time than it will have taken NASA to make a souped-up CEV (and a bunch of unnecessary new launch vehicles for their new toy).


RE: Ouch
By othercents on 8/4/2008 3:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder what would have happened to the ashes if the rocket actually made it into space? Would there be a failure in another system that would keep the cargo from being released? Is the rocket going to be retrievable or will there just be more space junk floating around out there?

Anyone who fires rockets into space needs to have a retrieval plan if something fails.

Other


RE: Ouch
By Fnoob on 8/4/2008 6:52:23 PM , Rating: 5
Anyone who fires rockets into space needs to have a retrieval plan if something fails.

'The Plan' is already in place, as instituted by S.I. Newton I believe.


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