Feeds

Third time unlucky for Elon Musk's Falcon rocket

Volcano lair rather than space station for now

Build a business case: developing custom apps

SpaceX, the commercial space launch company run by PayPal multimillionaire and tech visionary Elon Musk, has suffered another technical hitch. The third test flight of the Falcon 1 rocket has been unsuccessful, after the upper stage failed to separate properly from the lower.

"It was obviously a big disappointment not to reach orbit on this flight," said Musk in an online statement at the weekend.

"On the plus side, the flight of our first stage, with the new Merlin 1C engine that will be used in Falcon 9, was picture perfect. Unfortunately, a problem occurred with stage separation, causing the stages to be held together. This is under investigation and I will send out a note as soon as we understand exactly what happened."

The two previous launches of Falcon 1 both failed as well. The most recent suffered separation issues like those seen at the weekend, and the first caught fire and crashed.

SpaceX also plans a larger and more powerful system, the Falcon 9, intended to fly next year. This rocket could one day be man-rated, and carry astronauts into orbit in SpaceX's Dragon capsule.

"The primary design driver," of the Falcon rockets, according to SpaceX, "is and will remain reliability."

Musk is also now the undisputed chief at well-known electric vehicle firm Tesla Motors, following boardroom battles last year. He owns the first Tesla Roadster battery supercar, and is apparently to personally sculpt the bodywork of its more affordable, more mass-market successor. (This follows an acrimonious dispute with car designer Henrik Fisker, who Musk says deliberately palmed off Tesla with an inferior design before leaving to start his own electrocar firm. The argument is now in the Californian courts.)

Answering speculation as to the effect of the latest Falcon 1 failure on SpaceX's future Musk remains upbeat, saying that he has recently accepted a large financial contribution from an unnamed investor and that the firm's ambitious launch schedule will proceed unaffected.

"I will never give up and I mean never," he writes. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.