The commercial spaceflight company Space X successfully launched its Falcon 1 unmanned booster, becoming the first private company to send a rocket into orbit. The two-stage rocket lifted off at 7:16 p.m. EDT (23:16 GMT) from the the launch site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the about 2,500 miles (4,023 km) southwest of Hawaii. This successful launch comes almost two months after an engine timing error during stage separation caused the failure of Space X’s third Falcon 1 test. If you missed watching the live webcast, below is the video. Watching the live webcast was wonderful; the people who actually built this rocket could be heard cheering in the background as each milestone in the climb to orbit was reached. Congratulations to everyone at Space X!
After the Falcon 1 reached orbit, an elated Elon Musk, Space X CEO told his cheering employees, “As the saying goes, the fourth time’s the charm.” He said this is just the first step for Space X, and added “This is one of the best days of my life.”
SpaceX’s first three attempts to launch the Falcon 1 all failed, with different problems occurring on each try. But today, after a uneventful countdown, the two-stage rocket operated flawlessly, bringing a dummy payload to Earth orbit. “This was the smoothest launch countdown of all,” Musk said. “It just shows the team is getting more and more practice at this.”
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The Falcon 1 is a two stage, liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) powered launch vehicle. It is designed from the ground up by Space X, with no government assistance. Space X has about 500 employees.
As winner of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) competition, SpaceX is designing and building the Falcon 9 human-rated launch vehicle and Dragon spaceship to transport cargo and then astronauts to the International Space Station.
Space X’s mission is to provide launch vehicles at low cost and high reliability. This success could be the beginning of a new era in spaceflight.
Source: Space X