Space X's next Falcon 1 flight to take place in late June

Monday, May 19, 2008

Falcon 1 rocket in front of the FAA building in Washington DC.

Anyone who knows anything about space knows that one of the main reasons we're not capable of sending hundreds of rockets or whatnot into space at present is the prohibitive cost of sending something to orbit. The cost at present to send 1 kilogram into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is about $10,000. This depends on the type of rocket you want to use, and different companies offer different rockets for varying prices. But at the moment it's still pretty expensive.

That's where SpaceX comes in. SpaceX was founded to dramatically decrease the cost of sending things to orbit, and this will be using a rocket called the Falcon 1, and later on a larger one called the Falcon 9. The Falcon 1 has already had two test flights, the first with only a tiny bit of success (it took off and went up for a few dozen seconds, then there was a fire and I forget the rest), and the second with a larger amount, getting just about into orbit, but stopping just short of there due to some sloshing about with the nozzle that caused the engine to shut down prematurely, if I remember correctly. I watched that flight live online.

So hopefully this next flight will be entirely successful. The Falcon 1 is extremely cheap compared to existing rockets, costing a total of $7 million. Other rockets seem to be able to compare to this per kilogram (note that the page gives the cost per pound), but note that almost all carry a heavier payload, putting the total price out of the range of a lot of companies and small countries.

Here's the article on the next Falcon 1 launch. I'll very likely be staying up to watch the flight if it's during my bedtime.

Six years have passed since Musk started SpaceX to bring about the cheaper launches he sees as a necessary precondition for humanity fulfilling its potential as a truly spacefaring civilization. Although fielding a reliable, low-cost launcher is taking longer than he once hoped, Musk said he is not about to throw in the towel.

"We are in this for the long term," Musk said. "SpaceX will never give up. I will never give up. Never."


He said the rocket's first stage is already in place at the company's private island launch complex in the Kwajalein Atoll, with the second stage to join it there in a "couple of weeks."

Musk refused to be pinned down on a precise launch date, however, telling reporters SpaceX would take all the time it needs to get it right.

"At the end of the day we are not going to rush this flight," he said.

It also is clear SpaceX is not counting on the old adage "third time's the charm" to ensure a successful launch. Musk put the odds of a successful next flight at "85 to 90 percent."

I like those odds.

I'll put up a post here once the date has been confirmed, and hopefully a link to the live video feed as well.


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