Friday, June 4, 2010

SpaceX Successfully Launches Falcon 9 Into Orbit

SpaceX has just launched their first Falcon 9 rocket into orbit after having to scrub the first launch attempt, earlier in the day. The 55 meter (180 feet) tall Falcon 9 rocket reached orbit 10 minutes after lifting off at 2:45pm local time on June 4, 2010, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

In December 2008, NASA announced that it has selected SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon Spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) when the Space Shuttle retires in 2010. The $1.6 billion contract will have a minimum of 12 flights, with the option to order additional missions for a total contract value of up to $3.1 billion. It will be less than half the cost of other competing systems of similar capabilities.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket sitting on the launch pad.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has been quoted as saying:
"100 percent success would be reaching orbit. Given that this is a test flight, whatever percentage of getting to orbit we achieve would still be considered a good day. If just the first stage functions correctly, it's a good day. It's a great day if both stages function."
It appears to be a perfect day, as SpaceX starts sifting through the flight data to help decide on any needed improvements. The Falcon 9 will fly three demonstration missions before it will be used to resupply the International Space Station.

Looking into the future, the company hopes to start sending people into space aboard their rockets and is currently developing a heavy lift launch vehicle capable lifting more mass into orbit than the Space Shuttle. Elon Musk even optimistically hopes to be involved in human missions to Mars by the early 2020's.

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