Feeds

SpaceX Falcon 9 achieves orbit on maiden flight

Elon Musk rocket overhead

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.