SpaceX Success! Falcon 9 Rocket Launches Into Orbit

By Eliza Strickland | June 4, 2010 4:46 pm

SpaceX-Falcon-9The Falcon 9 rocket blasted away from its Florida launch pad this afternoon, marking a major victory for the private space company SpaceX. The company, founded by the daring entrepreneur Elon Musk, hopes to build space taxis for NASA that can ferry cargo and crew to the International Space Station.

As we reported earlier today, Musk downplayed expectations for the test launch. But judging from the company’s live webcast, the procedure appeared to go remarkably well. Three minutes after liftoff the two stages of the rocket separated and the second stage’s engines ignited; nine minutes after liftoff the rocket achieved Earth orbit.

SpaceX verified that the rocket reached orbit, but hasn’t released any further information yet (stay tuned for details). If all continued to go as planned, SpaceX engineers are now studying the dummy version of the crew module, called the Dragon Spacecraft, that went up with the rocket and is now orbiting the planet. The plan called for Dragon to make several orbits and then reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and splash down in the Pacific Ocean, where SpaceX could retrieve it for study.

Today’s successful launch also gives a boost to President Obama’s proposal to let private space companies take over the routine tasks of space flight, allowing NASA to set its sights higher–a plan that has been met with considerable opposition. Following the Falcon 9’s launch, NASA administrator Charles Bolden praised the company in a statement:

“Congratulations to Space X on today’s launch of its Falcon 9 launch  vehicle. Space X’s accomplishment is an important milestone in the commercial transportation effort and puts the company a step closer to providing cargo services to the International Space Station.” [NASA]

Related Content:
80beats: Today: The First Test Launch of the SpaceX Astronaut Taxi
80beats: Fired Up: SpaceX Successfully Tests Rocket Engines; Plans for an April Launch
80beats: Obama’s NASA Budget: So Long, Moon Missions; Hello, Private Spaceflight
80beats: Internet Millionaire’s Privately Funded Rocket Reaches Orbit
80beats: Millionaire’s Private Rocket Fails to Reach Orbit on Third Try

Image: SpaceX

  • mason

    I think this is one of the few times imo when privatization is a really good idea. Whether we think it’s necessary or not, we need to continue to develop new forms of space travel and technology to facilitate it. What the ppl whose only argument is “we have too many problems down here to be worrying about this,” they fail to understand the two most important implications of aeronautical research. The first is for national defense… it’s bad enough that nasa has to rely on Russia to ferry them to the ISS. If we keep going at this rate, our disadvantage will only grow as they continue to develop new technologies in their space program while we pump the brakes on ours. Is air and space superiority something you really want the Russians to have? It doesn’t seem like a good idea for any one country to have, let alone one whom we have a sketchy history with. The second is that with aeronautical research comes a flood of new technologies, most of which are very applicable to us down on earth. For example, if it wasn’t for nasa, we wouldn’t have the chips that we use for non-invasive biopsies, solar energy, and a whole litany of other things ( has a good number of inventions that most of us don’t know came from our space program). And if you’re one of those ppl that are so skeptical (or cynical imo) that you still don’t think that any of the things on this list warrant a larger investment in a privatized space industry, just remember that while you sleep at night, you most likely have nasa to thank for that, too. If you use any type of home security system, chances are they use infrared and laser technology that came out of nasa’s research (just look at the adt home security infrared camera page. They even admit that the technology came from nasa!)

  • monsterbeats

    great! i love this artcile!


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