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.
quote: Furthermore, working out the true total cost of a Soyuz launch is essentially impossible, as the R&D costs are already amortized in, and were done by the Soviet government in a time where cost accounting wasn't done. The figures here are simply "incremental" costs of using an already established launch platform.
quote: Nasa was far more efficient, because it was a young department with a real goal...and without an entrenched bureaucracy that builds up over time in any government department.
quote: Compared to that, the funding a company like SpaceX receives is incomparably insignificant.
quote: The problem is that "jack of all trade" shuttle, which never came close to meeting its original design goals, and is regularly launched for no reason at all but to justify its own existence. Take a look at the list of Shuttle missions some time...does another launch to "study the effects of microgravity on the human body" really justify the program or the expense?
quote: Exactly. And when a private firm only five years old is already cost-competitive with the Russians
quote: But leaving out obvious costs like the design costs specifically for the shuttle itself is equally silly. We've spent $150 billion on the shuttle program, and it's had 115 launches. That's $1.3 billion per mission. End of story.
quote: Correct cost accounting was *not* done for major Soviet military projects. In fact, such accounting was essentially impossible, due to the command nature of the Soviet economy. Ask any economist or defense analyst specializing in Soviet-era information.
quote: Oops, in 1963, when NASA was as old as SpaceX is now, they hadn't launched a series of moon missions; they'd done nothing but launch a man into LEO for a day. Admittedly more than SpaceX has accomplished sure...
quote: Quite obviously, the statement intended to suggest a substantial percentage of GDP. Apollo at its height was consuming 4% of the total federal budget. Compared to that, the funding a company like SpaceX receives is incomparably insignificant.
quote: And yet you're still missing the point. No one is trying to compare the achievements, the glory, or the relative difficulty of the two programs.
quote: We're simply pointing out that, once private enterprise matures a bit more, it will be able to operate at a far lower cost structure than a government bureacracy. That's it.
quote: Are you willing to bet that none will? I'm willing to wager any sum you wish up to $1000 of my own money that SpaceX will succeed
quote: Err, no. Falcon deviates in several ways from any previous launch platform. Arianespace's launches of Soyuz, on the other hand, are using a perfect clone of the old Soviet design.
quote: Total costs / total missions = cost per mission. Nothing could possible be simpler. That's standard cost accounting, used by every major government and corporate body in the world.
quote: Now you're just being childish again. The costs and launch count I quoted was current as of the end of 2006. The figures are not "wrong".
quote: Disagree all you want; the figures are from NASA's own official budget requests.
quote: Here you go: http://www.space.com/news/shuttle_cost_050211.html
quote: You misunderstand my statement Arianespace is using a clone of the Soyuz launch system, which is based on a decades-old Soviet ICBM design. They aren't modifying the design in any way.
quote: > "I am not betting on anything" Doesn't sound like you have a lot of faith in your position.
quote: Shuck and jive all you want: when you spend $150 billion to pay for 113 launches, the per-launch cost is roughly $1.3B.
quote: You're still trying to claim some sort of parity between what Ariane has done -- which is buy a completed launch system from someone else -- to SpaceX, who has designed their own rocket, using both existing and new technology. The two cases aren't comparable, plain and simple.
quote: It doesn't matter. If they don't make the deadline, the customer will be reimbursed costs plus damages. SpaceX is still selling a service that is cost-competitive with other launch services.
quote: What does this have to do with anything? SpaceX is bearing those costs. Until and unless they begin to raise their rates beyond those of other launch services, the issue of how much they pay for insurance is moot.