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Falcon 1 launch failed

Posted by Richard on March 24, 2006

I was watching the streaming video of the maiden launch of Falcon 1, and everything seemed to go perfectly all the way through the countdown and for maybe twenty seconds afterward. The liftoff was beautiful to watch. Shortly after, the video stream switched to an onboard camera showing the ground receding below, and everything seemed to be going well. Then, suddenly, the video stream stopped.

Out of the Cradle, which live-blogged the launch, confirmed loss of the vehicle about 10 minutes after launch and posted an update a little later:

Few details are available, but at this stage it looks like the vehicle veered of course after less than a minute of powered flight. Given that about 50 per cent of first launches of new rockets end in failure, there was always a chance that this would happen. Our sympathies are with the SpaceX team, who have worked so hard to reach this point.

This is a terrible disappointment. A successful launch would have been another giant step in the commercialization and privatization of space flight.

Falcon 1 is the first and smallest of three launch vehicles developed by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in an astonishingly short time period. SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal. It promised greater launch vehicle reliability and costs to orbit as low as a tenth of current alternatives, and it has a number of contracted customers already.

Go to Out of the Cradle for pictures of the countdown and launch.

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