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SpaceX Falcon 1: Fourth Time's a Charm

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 10 comments

After three separate failures, Space Exploration Technologies (or SpaceX) got the Falcon 1 into space.

Falcon 1, SpaceX’s liquid-fueled rocket, lifted off its launch pad at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Defense Test Site on September 28 at 7:15 p.m. EDT. "As the saying goes, the fourth time’s the charm," said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. "This is one of the best days of my life."

This momentous occasion for the private space travel industry was not without errors or sacrifice. Since Musk, who was the co-founder of PayPal, founded SpaceX back in 2002, Falcon had launched three previous times, all ending short of their goal in a brilliant flash of light. The first attempt was victim to fire caused by a fuel leak shortly after launch. The second attempt was nearly a success, but an early shut down of the rockets second stage ended the near-completed run. Back on Aug. 2, an engine timing issue caused the rocket’s first stage to separate, and then collide with the second stage, abruptly ending the flight.

However, the fourth attempt was a complete success, ending with an Earth orbit that ranged from 310 to 434 miles, or 500-700 kilometers. "This is really just the first step for SpaceX," said Elon after the launch. "We’ve shown that we can get to orbit, [and] we’ve shown that we don’t have any design errors...The team is elated and ecstatic."

According to Space.com, "The booster stands 68 feet tall (21 meters) tall and is designed to haul payloads of up to about 1,256 pounds (570 kg) to low-Earth orbit." On Sunday nights launch, the Falcon 1 was carrying a 364-pound dummy satellite, which the SpaceX team nicknamed RatSat. The satellite should stay in orbit for anywhere between five and ten years. As for the fifth iteration of the Falcon 1, it should launch sometime in early 2009, and will carry a Malaysian satellite as well as several other payloads.

Currently, SpaceX is also working on the Falcon 9 rocket, a big brother of sorts to the Falcon 1. The Falcon 9 is due to be tested down at NASA’s Cape Canaveral launch pad in the summer of 2009.

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  • -1 Hide
    Mr_Man , September 30, 2008 3:14 AM
    Take that, Commies!
    Seriously, though, this is amazing. SpaceX is not only the first business to do this, they've done it so much more cheaply than NASA did, or still does.
  • 0 Hide
    jrabbitb , September 30, 2008 6:11 PM
    I'd still give NASA a lot of credit but it is nice to see commercial options coming to reality. now some of the non government supported ideas can get off the ground. no pun intended.
  • -1 Hide
    JonnyDough , October 1, 2008 12:22 AM
    So wait, they put launch some space junk and it's supposed to drop out of the sky sometime within the next decade but they really don't know when? Is it space travel amateur hour? 3 failures and a dummy satellite? I want to go to space as a tourist! Where do I sign up? How can they even do this? As far as I'm concerned "getting to space" probably isn't all that hard, especially when NASA gives away tons of data to help out. Shouldn't it be considered successful once they successfully bring their ship BACK from space intact? I would think that would be a bit more important to anyone considering traveling to space. Why don't we just put certain people (ie certain "authors" on DT [J.M.?]and maybe those from Space X who decided it would be a good idea to create more space junk) on a rocket and send them to space and then pat ourselves on the back if they don't blow up on the way. Then we'll call it a success if they remain floating around earth for 5-10 years.
  • -1 Hide
    martin0642 , October 1, 2008 2:13 PM
    First off, congratulations to SpaceX for Penetrating Space with their ideally shaped rocket, with stag music playing in the background. It was not lost on everyone.


    JonnyDoughSo wait, they put launch some space junk and it's supposed to drop out of the sky sometime within the next decade but they really don't know when? Is it space travel amateur hour? 3 failures and a dummy satellite? I want to go to space as a tourist! Where do I sign up? How can they even do this? As far as I'm concerned "getting to space" probably isn't all that hard, especially when NASA gives away tons of data to help out. Shouldn't it be considered successful once they successfully bring their ship BACK from space intact? I would think that would be a bit more important to anyone considering traveling to space. Why don't we just put certain people (ie certain "authors" on DT [J.M.?]and maybe those from Space X who decided it would be a good idea to create more space junk) on a rocket and send them to space and then pat ourselves on the back if they don't blow up on the way. Then we'll call it a success if they remain floating around earth for 5-10 years.




    Wow. I'll just go one at a time, because this is a mess:

    1: They put junk there, just like NASA and the Russians did the first time, because doing test flights with expensive satellites or people on board is stupid and a waste of money, and bad publicity.

    2: Space Amateur hour? How can they do this? They can do it because no one owns space, and the fact that this is the first non-government body to achieve this mark is not because there are anti-space laws, it's because it's not cheap or easy to do, which is why there are so few space-faring nations of earth, let alone space-faring companies.

    3: If you want to go to space as a tourist, do you think the government is more likely to sell you a ticket, or a corporation? SpaceX will pioneer the industry and create the competition that will, someday, allow you to go into space as a tourist.

    4: "As Far As Your Concerned" is correct because it means you are singularly uninformed on this point, and other people know it's not simple. I could tell you how to build a car and give you the parts, but that does not mean your going to actually make a car. Space is an unforgiving environment, and the reason SpaceX is important is they have a NEW type of engine, nothing like what Nasa uses, to keep costs down. It makes it economical for commercial launches, because it's not just spending tax dollars.

    5: They didn't launch a ship, they launched a rocket to deliver payload. Therefor, there is no ship to get back, and the reason is that you don't need the costs of a ship if your going to make money on launching things to start a business, and expand later. The Space Nasa space shuttle is the only "ship", the Russians use a capsule to get back down. Later, SpaceX will be able to launch people on the Falcon9, and have them also land in a capsule.

    6: I would rather dummy-payload space junk instead of expensive equipment or dead people type space junk, which would have happened 3 times by now in the failed launches. The earth has an 11 year cleaning cycle for LEO orbit, and it takes care of itself.

    What scares me is that you actually posted your comment whilst fully convinced you were correct. The staggering level of ignorance, and the belief that you posses the skills and intellect to mock what SpaceX has done is truly scary. It reminds me of VenomFangX on Youtube...which I am sure if you watch his videos, you'll fall instantly in love with them.

    PS: I'll be watching Thunderf00t or Pat Condell, in case you were wondering. Cheers.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , October 1, 2008 7:51 PM
    Wow Martin. You're a conceited prick. By the way, whilst we are acting all uppity, therefore has an "e". I applaud whatever it is they're doing, I wasn't mocking them. I was more or less questioning the whole "space travel" side of it. Anyone can send a payload off the ground. People are not payload, they are an entirely different thing and returning a payload intact is even more difficult. Your need to try to dissect what I posted in such fashion tells me that it is indeed your belittling character that should NOT be on YouTube. I don't really bother to watch all the stupid people on YouTube. A capsule might also be considered a "ship." I think you were getting a little big for your britches in trying to make sure I had the terminology just perfect. Anyone else would have realized I used the term loosely. Next time you decide to go online (because ZOMG someone on the net is WRONG!) maybe you should take a big breath and put some of that British arrogance aside for a moment.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , October 1, 2008 7:53 PM
    Like, CHEERS ya yank!
  • -1 Hide
    martin0642 , October 2, 2008 7:01 PM
    That's funny, apparently you've somehow taken my desire to correct you as conceit, and replied with name-calling, very nice indeed. Thank you for pointing out my typo, it goes a long way towards supporting your argument as well. I dissected your post because the errors were too numerous to cover in a meaningful way without enumeration; there was no "need" to do so other than the fact that I didn't want any innocent minds to be led astray by your assertions. You could have just taken the time to reflect on what I said, but instead you are apparently internalizing my attempt to set the record straight and turn it into some kind of personal assault, I'm very sorry if that's how you feel.

    Payload:
    1. The part of a cargo producing revenue or income, usually expressed in weight.
    2. The number of paying passengers, as on an airplane.

    Asserting that a capsule is a ship is also silly, as one of the things that is intrinsic to a "ship" is an internal propulsion system. Without that, it's a hull, barge, capsule, ect. A proper understanding of word meaning is appreciated when trying to convey meaning to others, but I digress.

    1) The space travel aspect will be aided by the ability to get things up in a cheaper manner than currently available. One could send individuals up in the rocket, and then place them in a totally different capsule to float back down.

    2) Asserting that it is simple to get objects into space, especially with a new engine type, is incorrect. This is why so few companies or countries have the capabilities to do so, and this is why middle eastern countries can't even make missiles that can reach farther than their local neighbors, much less the United States. Consider that those missiles don't even have to make it into space, and whole countries aren't able to develop them with considerable funding, and Elon Musk has achieved it in four tries.

    3) Just because you feel "belittled" does not indicate that I was belittling you, it just means thats how you took the information in. I was correcting you, which you seem to think substantiates an ego problem on my part, instead of a correctness problem on yours. How convenient. I also find it interesting that you then go on to call everyone on YouTube stupid, which is a bit hypocritical.

    4) My britches are just the right size, and the fact that people are saying things without actually understanding them is a disturbing trend that should be corrected more often.

    5) I'm American, so you might want to update your stereotype rulebook.

    6) A Yankee is a derogative term for, Americans.

    Yankee:

    1. a native or inhabitant of the United States.
    2. a native or inhabitant of New England. (
  • -1 Hide
    martin0642 , October 2, 2008 7:03 PM
    JonnyDoughLike, CHEERS ya yank!


    Just so we're clear, New England is a state in America, lots of people get fooled by that one.

    So thank you for the reply, and have a loverly Internet day.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , October 4, 2008 12:24 PM
    Wow. Yawn? I didn't even bother to read all that you wrote. You clearly have issues. I urge you to seek help. Also, I wasn't wrong on "yankee." You should probably look it up. Yankee refers to someone from New England, you are correct...but think about it...new ENGLAND. "Cheers" sounded British, and because you are such an arrogant prick I can only assume that you're of British descent. You trying to correct me at every term and writing a full page dissertation just proves how lame you are. I could go into further response but for the sake of anyone who might waste their time reading this, I won't bother. I mean, it's likely there's already someone wasting their time on you...you know, like behavioral scientists. For the record, that's only belittlement if you choose to see it that way.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , October 4, 2008 12:28 PM
    Quote:
    1) The space travel aspect will be aided by the ability to get things up in a cheaper manner than currently available. One could send individuals up in the rocket, and then place them in a totally different capsule to float back down.


    Wouldn't that be an additional "payload" and sort of...be the same point I was making? I'll put everything into quotes now so that you can be sure that I mean the word loosely...

    Good Lord, I'd hate to be WRONG on the net. Before responding, you should proofread it again 10 times just to be sure that YOU have it right! /end saracasm