Feeds

Third time unlucky for Elon Musk's Falcon rocket

Volcano lair rather than space station for now

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.