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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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RE: Leave it to the pros
By Darkskypoet on 8/5/2008 6:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
Shuck and jive all you want: when you spend $150 billion to pay for 113 launches, the per-launch cost is roughly $1.3B.

Yes, for launches, launch pads, robotics, airframes, manufacturing facilities, all related technology, etc, etc, etc. Something to ponder here, as this technology gets reused, spun off, sold, etc do we then get to start reducing the cost per launch? Or do you simply close it off and disregard future benefits outside the realm of 'just x launches'?? I am curious, as they got far more then 'just x launches' for their money. (And for the 4th or 5th time, yes it was a lot of f***ing money. Most going to fund domestic private aerospace firms.)

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.

No I am not. In fact I started talking about Soyuz, you started talking about Arianespace. Arianespace is a consortium and as such is much more like the massive American firms in nature, then a small start up like SpaceX.

I am comparing a suitable competitor to SpaceX's lifting platform... One that works. At least in my comparison of Falcon 9 and Soyuz 2 launch platforms, they are both privately for hire, and more comparable then NASA, SpaceX, the shuttle or Falcon anything. Besides, again, Soyuz 2 works, falcon 1 and 9 do not as of yet. I also mentioned the Delta platform, another competitor to Falcon 9, however you seem to like strategically ignoring things like that I've noticed.

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.

No they aren't as they have been unable to provide the service even once. Sorry, but its not a cost competitive offering of a service until they actually provide said service. Heck, even if they succeeded once, I'd totally grant you that it was a cost competitive offering. But they haven't, so its merely somewhat false advertising at this point. They have no proof that they can successfully deliver a payload as of yet. You know this as well as I do. Will they one day? Sure as long as people keep up with the huge 'investments'.

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.

It isn't moot, because it directly impacts their bottom line, which with a private firm completely impacts their ability to operate, eventually fulfill launch contracts, and survive. Also, just curious as I don't feel like digging for it, but do you have source that indicates who pays for payload insurance? Or is it just SOP that once safely delivered to SpaceX their insurance takes over? I mean its not as if launches aren't exceptionally risky. Further, is it even insured for full value? or does SpaceX cover a fairly large portion of the cost of payload if things go bad? I am sure it makes a car insurance deductible look tiny.

Even worse then rising insurance costs, is the inability to find a firm that will underwrite the endeavour, this would be a far greater concern, and is a definite possibility if they don't enjoy regular successes soon.

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