Space Exploration Technologies Corp has finally did it. SpaceX has launched an affordable commercial rocket. The Falcon 1 rocket was the company’s fourth attempt to reach orbit.
PayPal co-founder Elon Musk started SpaceX as a commercial space rocket company. While SpaceX has had several setbacks and launch failures, it has finally completed its private space mission.
Falcon 1 carried a 364 pound dummy payload designed and built by Space for the launch. The 70-foot-long rocket was powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene. It is the first in a family of low-cost launch vehicles priced at $7.9 million each.
“Fourth time’s a charm,” said Elon Musk. “There’s only a handful of countries on Earth that have done this. It’s usually a country thing, not a company thing. We did it.”
Musk said the company will continue getting rockets into orbit. Moreover, he said the company has resolved design issues that plagued previous attempts.
SpaceX lost three government satellites last month due to a timing error. The cargo also included human ashes of Gordon Cooper and Star Trek actor James Doohan. The third rocket was lost.
However, the successful mission on Sunday outlines new opportunities for SpaceX. The company is developing a larger launch vehicle for NASA called Falcon 9. The new rocket is capable of flying to the international space station after the space shuttle program retires in 2010.