Feeds

SpaceX Falcon 9 achieves orbit on maiden flight

Elon Musk rocket overhead

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launched on its maiden flight on Friday at 11:45am Pacific Daylight Time, 15 minutes short of the end of its four-hour launch window.

As live-blogged on the Space Exploration Technologies website:

Posted June 04, 2010 11:45 Pacific Time
T+ 00:00:06 Liftoff!

Posted June 04, 2010 11:46 Pacific Time
T+ 00:01:13 Flacon 9 is approaching maximum dynamic pressure (Max Q)

Posted June 04, 2010 11:47 Pacific Time
T+ 00:01:56 Plume behind the vehicle is expanding as the atmosphere thins, as expected

Posted June 04, 2010 11:48 Pacific Time
T+ 00:03:06 Stages have separated

Posted June 04, 2010 11:48 Pacific Time
T+ 00:03:34 Second Stage Ignition

Posted June 04, 2010 11:50 Pacific Time
T+ 00:05:35 As expected, the radiatively cooled expansion nozzle of the engine is glowing red hot. This operates like our Falcon 1 vehicle, but larger.

Posted June 04, 2010 11:54 Pacific Time
T+ 00:08:50 Second Stage Engine Shut-Down

Posted June 04, 2010 11:54 Pacific Time
T+ 00:09:04 Falcon 9 has achieved Earth Orbit!

Shortly afterward, The Reg received a SpaceX email that quoted founder Elon Musk as saying: "Nominal shutdown and orbit was almost exactly 250km. Telemetry showed essentially a bullseye: ~0.2% on perigee and ~1% on apogee."

SpaceX Falcon 9 on its launch pad

An earlier Falcon 9 on its Cape Canaveral, Florida, launch pad

Bullseye, indeed. Musk had earlier said that merely achieving orbit on the Falcon 9's first flight would be "100 per cent success" — and his two-stage, 54.9m (180ft), liquid oxygen and RP-1–fueled rocket's payload, what Musk described as "structural test article of our Dragon spacecraft," is at this moment zipping merrily about the globe, enjoying that success.

And success on a maiden voyage is unusual. According to a BBC report on the Falcon's feat, two-third of rockets introduced in the past 20 years have had unsuccessful first flights.

SpaceX Dragon capsule in crew configuration

The SpaceX Dragon capsule can be configured for cargo or crew (shown)

Musk and company aren't the only ones breathing a sigh of relief as the Dragon sails over their heads. There are undoubtedly some smiles at the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration too. NASA has entered into contracts with SpaceX totaling $1.6bn for deliveries to the International Space Station (ISS) through at least 2015.

SpaceX also has missions scheduled for Canada, Argentina, Israel, and Europe, so if you want to hire the Falcon 9, you'd better call them soon. Pricing is reasonable — $45.8m to $51.5m — and "half-bay" deals are available as well.

These prices are guaranteed only through this Saturday, however, so act fast. But you may want to first thumb through the Falcon 9's Payload User's Guide — RTFM, as they say. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
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
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
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.