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Successful launch from earlier this week  (Source: SpaceX)
SpaceX launches second successful rocket launch

Space Exploration Technologies recently launched a Malaysian Earth-observing satellite into orbit, marketing its second successful launch.

"Our ground systems were able to pick up communication from RazakSAT on its first pass," SpaceX said in a statement.  "The satellite is communicating as expected and our team will continue to monitor the data closely."

Stormy weather and a helium malfunction delayed the launch of the Falcon 1 rocket for a few hours -- and there was concern the launch would have to be scrubbed -- but it still took off without a hitch.  The RazakSAT satellite was expected to launch into space in April, but a vibration issue located between Falcon 1 and RazakSAT took quite some time to fix.

The RazakSAT will take high-resolution pictures of Malaysia, allowing the government to monitor forestry and fish migration, land management, and other government-led initiatives.

This marks the company's first commercial space launch, and the company is already looking for other companies and nations looking to launch satellites into space.  SpaceX previously had three launches unable to reach orbit, but continues to build momentum for future launches.

In the future, SpaceX aims to make it significantly cheaper to go into space at a lower cost, with the company actively making new rockets.  SpaceX will use its Falcon 1 and its larger Falcon 9 rocket to help launch rides into orbit in the future.

NASA awarded SpaceX a contract in 2008 to help resupply the International Space Station, which will be extremely important when the U.S. space agency retires the space shuttle fleet next year.

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RE: Budget
By Shig on 7/16/2009 1:45:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure it was cheaper, but I doubt that the SpaceX sattelites are very big. I also doubt SpaceX could launch a full size satelite.

My question is : If the cost to launch a really small sattelite is low, would it be more efficient to launch 2-4 small sattelites that equal one larger one?

RE: Budget
By grath on 7/16/2009 5:57:09 PM , Rating: 2
It depends on the type and application of the satellites in question, their desired useful lifespan, and their location in orbit. In some cases, multiple satellites are indeed launched on the same rocket, but there is always a tradeoff when reducing the size and mass of a satellite. That means a less capable satellite with less available power, less sensitive antennas, smaller optics, and/or decreased lifespan because of smaller fuel tanks and less fuel for reboost or station keeping. Also keep in mind that no satellite, no matter how small, can be considered 'low cost' to launch. To even launch one pound of anything requires a multimillion dollar launch system. So engineers tend to want to squeeze every last drop of capability they can out of a design, and that means they build it as close to the maximum rated up-mass of the system as is reasonable, constantly trying to shave a few pounds off here and there in order to accomodate more propellant to keep their investment useful for as long as possible.

RE: Budget
By Screwballl on 7/18/2009 12:42:39 PM , Rating: 1
That means a less capable satellite with less available power, less sensitive antennas, smaller optics, and/or decreased lifespan because of smaller fuel tanks and less fuel for reboost or station keeping.

Considering the price of current 10+ MP digital cameras and the availability of nuclear material, a few small adjustments could have them sending satellites in orbit for 1/10th of what NASA is.

RE: Budget
By mmatis on 7/16/2009 8:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
The real answer to your question is can 2-4 small satellites do the job of one larger one? There have been pushes for satellite miniaturization for several years, and OSC's Pegasus launcher does fly smaller satellites. However, there are still a significant number of large satellites, and their owners aren't looking to spend money they don't have to. Note that SpaceX is working on the Falcon 9 rocket, which will be able to carry a significantly larger payload if it is successful.

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