[QODLink]
Archive
Low-cost rocket fails first flight
The debut flight of a low-cost launcher developed and financed by internet billionaire Elon Musk lasted about a minute before the rocket failed due to unknown technical reasons.
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2006 07:19 GMT
The rocket was designed and built by privately held SpaceX
The debut flight of a low-cost launcher developed and financed by internet billionaire Elon Musk lasted about a minute before the rocket failed due to unknown technical reasons.

The 70-foot (21 metre), two-stage Falcon 1 rocket was launched at 5.29pm (2229 GMT) from a US base on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean's Marshall Islands on Friday.
 

The rocket lifted off from the launch pad but was destroyed about a minute later. 
 

The rocket was designed and built by privately held Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, of El Segundo, California.

 

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX vice president of business development, speaking to reporters on a teleconference call, said: "Clearly this is a setback, but we are in this for the long haul."

 

Musk, who sold his electronic payment service firm PalPay to Ebay for $1.5 billion in 2002, has high ambitions for SpaceX. He intends to cut the price of launch services with a family of semi-reusable rockets called the Falcon.

 

Defence satellite

Even before its debut flight, SpaceX, which Musk founded four years ago, had won nine launch services contracts worth more than $200 million.

 

The cargo aboard the Falcon 1 rocket lost on Friday was a 43-pound (19.4kg), $750,000 department of defence satellite called FalconSat 2, which was to study how space plasma can disrupt communications and navigational positioning satellites.

 

The spacecraft was built by US Air Force Academy students and supported by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

 

SpaceX sells its smallest vehicle, the Falcon 1, for $6.7 million - about one-third the price of similarly sized rockets.

 

The Falcon 1 is a two-stage rocket powered by liquid oxygen and purified kerosene.

 

Musk, who has more than $100 million of his own funds into Falcon's development, has said repeatedly a launch failure would not be unexpected.

 

SpaceX has three more flights scheduled over the next 12 months and plans to debut its heavy-lift Falcon 9 in 2007.

 

Nasa contract

It is among 20 companies competing for a commercial contract with Nasa to launch cargo to the International Space Station. Eventually, Nasa would like to hand over launches of its astronaut crews to a commercial carrier as well.

 

Friday's liftoff of Falcon 1 followed three unsuccessful attempts that were canceled due to technical issues.

 

In an earlier news conference, Musk said he figured his company could withstand one or two major launch failures, but a third disaster would probably put him out of business.

 

"I really feel that one successful launch will establish us as being fairly reliable," he said.

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.