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SpaceX - Successful Launch [Mar. 21st, 2007|09:17 am]
SpaceX, a launch vehicle startup company, had a successful launch yesterday. This is a test of their Falcon I vehicle, a mostly-reusable two-stage rocket for carrying small cargo to space cheaply and reliably. The first launch attempt (almost exactly a year ago) ended with a catastrophic malfunction in the fuel system resulting in loss of the vehicle in low flight. (Failures in early launches are expected in the development of new rocket designs, however.)

I got to watch yesterday's first attempt via webcast. The launch was aborted shortly after engine ignition. (Unlike the space shuttle, which uses external solid fuel boosters that are going to keep going once you light then, the Falcon I uses liquid propellants pumped into the engine chamber.) There was an automatic shutdown by the computer and the vehicle was quickly put into a safe mode. They were then able to isolate the problem, recycle the system, and launch only an hour later!

They lifted off, had a successful stage separation, cleanly released the fairings (protective nose cone around cargo), and ran both engines. They shut down early due to unexpected oscillations in the second stage (visible at the end of the onboard launch video). But they still reached an altitude of 200 miles, well into outer space (62 miles). So this was a successful demonstration flight for testing the hardware.

Launch videos: High Quality and Low Quality.

[User Picture]From: furahi
2007-03-21 07:21 pm (UTC)
How interesting.
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[User Picture]From: kody_wolf
2007-03-21 09:14 pm (UTC)
That sounds very cool! :) Yay!
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[User Picture]From: sabercat
2007-03-21 09:48 pm (UTC)


I want one! :) When will they be made available on ebay!?
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[User Picture]From: menagerie73
2007-03-22 12:05 am (UTC)
Thanks for the update. SpaceX had kind of dropped off of my radar. I'm glad to hear that they are still around and trying to make it work.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2007-03-22 03:53 pm (UTC)
After their first attempt, I wasn't sure how SpaceX would fare. Though they still haven't achieved LEO, I think they showed that they're on the right track to get there. (And they've well exceeded what Scaled Composites has reached, altitude-wise.)
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[User Picture]From: ankhorite
2007-03-23 02:55 pm (UTC)

Hey, Nicodemus

Do you actually check the email addy in your profile? I sent you a small thing a couple of moments ago, but since I never check my @livejournal emails, I thought I'd give you a heads-up here too.

Possible material for a post today -- you go ahead and use it, I'm not going to. :)
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2007-03-23 06:24 pm (UTC)

Re: Hey, Nicodemus

It's aliased over to my personal email, which I do check semi-regularly. It's also spam-filtered, though, so I'll check to make sure your email wasn't falsely caught there. Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: darkfang
2007-03-22 12:09 am (UTC)
That, is pretty damn amazing :) I know we launch stuff fairly regulalrly, but watching the video from leaving the pad to getting into orbit is still awe inspiring! Yeah, the lizard brain is cheering ;)
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2007-03-22 03:56 pm (UTC)
No doubt. I'm always entranced by launch videos (and the whole launch process -- teamwork at its finest). :)

"We're all cheering together because Earth animals are going into space." (I'm guessing that's what you were referencing?)
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