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Falcon 1 is first private rocket to orbit Earth

Posted on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 01:48:10 CEST by

BBC News reports that after three failed attempts, SpaceX finally made a successful launch and put the first privately developed launch vehicle in orbit.
The Californian company's two-stage vehicle lofted a dummy payload from Omelek Island in the central Pacific.

Founded by internet billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX has a vision of reducing substantially the cost of access to space.

A larger rocket, Falcon 9, is likely to be used by the US to take cargo and even astronauts to the space station.

It was a case of fourth-time lucky for the smaller satellite launcher, which will charge $7.9m (£3.9m) to put 420kg (930lb) of payload in a low-Earth orbit.

The rocket cleared its umbilical tower at 1616 hours Pacific time (2316 GMT) on Sunday, and took some eight minutes to put itself in an elliptical orbit of 500km by 700km.

The dummy 165kg (364lb) payload was exposed to space but not released.

It was a triumphant moment for Mr Musk who has injected the project with millions of dollars earned from the sale of his two internet financial services firms, including the electronic payment system PayPal.
Here's a video of the launch:



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