Print 77 comment(s) - last by rudolphna.. on Aug 6 at 1:31 AM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Leave it to the pros
By masher2 on 8/4/2008 2:37:04 PM , Rating: 4
As I recall, Gemini/Apollo had several notable failures of its own. Let's not even get started on the Space Shuttle, which failed utterly to meet its most significant design goals of lowering launch costs and mission complexity.

More importantly, a failure of a government launch costs taxpayers millions or even billions...a failure of a private launch costs us nothing.

Ultimately, private enterprise can and will enter space...and they'll do so with designs that are significantly cheaper and more robust than anything a government bureaucracy ever dreamed of.

RE: Leave it to the pros
By UNCjigga on 8/4/2008 2:47:35 PM , Rating: 3
Well, the article seems to indicate that this rocket WAS carrying payloads for NASA, so it looks like the taxpayer will still eat the cost of the lost gear.

Why NASA would want to put a publicly-funded payload on an unproven satellite is beyond me--but I suppose these were fairly low-budget projects (hence the cheap launch vehicle).

RE: Leave it to the pros
By masher2 on 8/4/2008 3:07:04 PM , Rating: 4
The payloads are insured; NASA will get their money back for the launch failure.

RE: Leave it to the pros
By Calin on 8/5/2008 2:34:05 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe because NASA lacked launch capabilities for two very small satellites? As of right now, I don't think NASA has the capability to launch small payloads in Low Earth Orbit - or maybe they have, but their launches are already booked.
Or maybe because launching with the competition (Europe or Russia or China) is considered worse than risking payloads on (as of yet) unproven technology...

RE: Leave it to the pros
By afkrotch on 8/5/2008 1:59:12 AM , Rating: 2
More importantly, a failure of a government launch costs taxpayers millions or even billions...a failure of a private launch costs us nothing.

There's always a possibility that we can lose something. Actually plenty of possibilities. If there's a few telecommunications satellites on the rocket and it explodes in the air. Maybe whatever company those satellites belong to up their rates to make up for the loss.

Maybe it's a space ride launch. A few hundred ppl die. The company loses billions of dollars from the disaster and goes bankrupt. This starts affecting stock prices and the US economy goes into a small slump. The dollar value drops, while prices for goods increase.

I'm just making crap up, but hey...could be possible.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
Related Articles

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki