Founder Musk Remains Determined
Three attempts... three failures. No matter the reasons -- or
how unfair that simplistic characterization might be in the
field of rocketry -- that's the tally after the third
unsuccessful launch of a Falcon 1 rocket by Hawthorne, CA-based
After having the first launch attempt abort at the last possible
moment -- at T-minus .05 seconds, according to the company -- the
company's second launch attempt Saturday from Kwajalein Atoll in
the South Pacific appeared to be near-perfect to start... but
problems soon arose after the Falcon 1's two stages failed to
separate, and the rocket was destroyed.
"It was obviously a big disappointment not to reach orbit on
this flight," said SpaceX founder Elon Musk. "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
"This is under investigation and I will send out a note as soon
as we understand exactly what happened," Musk added.
As ANN reported late Saturday (in the
middle of our staff's mass exodus from Wittman Field, hence the
reason for this delayed update -- RF) SpaceX took a 16-month
hiatus in scheduling the company's third launch attempt. A fuel
leak doomed the first launch at T+29 seconds in March 2006; the
company's second launch attempt one year later was nominal through
the firing of the Falcon's second-stage, but a progressive
oscillation began in the later stages of the burn, which led the
second stage engine to stop burning just short of orbital
In addition to the rocket, three satellites carried onboard the
Falcon 1 -- for the Department of Defense, the Malaysian
Government, and NASA -- were also destroyed. Despite the setback,
however, the charasmatic founder of SpaceX remains undeterred.
"The most important message I’d like to send right now is
that SpaceX will not skip a beat in execution going forward," Musk
says. "We have flight four of Falcon 1 almost ready for flight and
flight five right behind that. I have also given the go ahead to
begin fabrication of flight six.
"As a precautionary measure to guard against the possibility of
flight 3 not reaching orbit, SpaceX recently accepted a significant
investment," Musk added. "Combined with our existing cash reserves,
that ensures we will have more than sufficient funding on hand to
continue launching Falcon 1 and develop Falcon 9 and Dragon [manned
"There should be absolutely zero question that SpaceX will
prevail in reaching orbit and demonstrating reliable space
transport. For my part, I will never give up and I mean never.
Thanks for your hard work and now on to flight four."