"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."
Monday, December 19, 2005
(MSNBC) Three weeks after its first try fizzled out, a low-cost rocket company had to postpone its maiden launch once again on Monday when a faulty valve created a dent in the rocket's fuel tank.
Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, fueled up its partially reusable Falcon 1 rocket for liftoff from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, on a mission to put the FalconSat 2 plasma-monitoring satellite into orbit for the U.S. Air Force Academy.
This is an unfortunate set back for SpaceX, which aims to reduce the cost of launching men and machines into space. Although the cause of the dent was due towards electrical fault and not structural design, engineers are taking a closer look at the rocket in order to certify that the entire rocket is sound (as the last thing the space industry needs is another Challenger).
(MSNBC) SpaceX is hoping that the launch, funded by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency as well as the Air Force, will be the first in a series of low-cost liftoffs from Kwajalein as well as Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The estimated price tag for a Falcon 1 launch is about $6.7 million, far less than the cost of similar launches by more established companies.
The company already has won a military contract worth up to $100 million for small-scale launches through 2010, and it is developing fully reusable, beefed-up versions of the Falcon rocket capable of lofting payloads and people to the international space station and beyond.
That contract depends on whether SpaceX can successfully launch a rocket into orbit. SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk, the creator of Pay Pal (which he later sold to Ebay). Through SpaceX Musk intends upon making humanity a "multiplanet species," who hopes to eventually aid in the colonization of Mars. Although he has faced many setbacks with SpaceX (both physical and legal) Musk is determined to enable mankind to leave his cradle and eventually take his place among the stars.
Image Credit: Thom Rogers / SpaceX
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