SpaceX: "We're In This For The Long Haul"
ANN REALTIME UPDATE 03.24.06 1755 EST: It looked good to
start... but SpaceX reports its Falcon 1 launch vehicle was
destroyed moments after it ascended from its launchpad on Kwalajein
Atoll, in the Marshall Islands.
"We did lose the vehicle," said Gwynne Shotwell, vice
president of business development at SpaceX.
The webcast signal of the launch, watched by thousands, was lost
shortly after liftoff. Its last image displayed a birds-eye view of
the island from a camera mounted on the rocket... and, an as-yet
unexplained speck of flame near the rocket's tail.
"Clearly this is a setback," Shotwell said, "but we're in this
for the long haul."
ANN REALTIME REPORTING
03.24.06 1600 EST: The countdown to launch SpaceX's Falcon 1
is expected to resume in about 15 minutes from now, after an
approximately 75 minute hold due to a recovery boat that
violated the impact limit line surrounding the launch site.
The countdown will resume at T-minus 1 hours, 15 minutes. The
countdown delay was extended slightly in order to assure that the
launch would not conflict with the International Space Station,
which is in a similar orbit to that planned for the FalconSat-2.
That window opens again at 5:28 pm EST.
Aero-News has just received word from the Marshall Islands that
conditions are good for SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket to liftoff this
afternoon two hours from now, at 4:00 pm EST.
This will be the fourth launch attempt for
the Falcon 1 since last year. A launch attempt last
month was scrapped after a problem arose during a static fire
test. The latest launch attempt comes near the tail end of
the current launch window, which runs through Saturday.
Should all go to plan this time around, the Falcon 1 rocket will
begin its journey to orbit, accelerating to 17,000 mph (25 times
the speed of sound) in less than ten minutes. Aboard the rocket on
its maiden flight is the DARPA and US Air Force satellite
FalconSat-2, which is part of the Air Force Academy’s
satellite program that will measure space plasma phenomena.
Designed from the ground up by SpaceX, Falcon 1 is a two stage
rocket powered by liquid oxygen and purified, rocket grade
kerosene. SpaceX reports the Falcon 1's main engine will be the
first all new American hydrocarbon engine for an orbital booster to
be flown in forty years, and only the second new American booster
engine of any kind in twenty-five years -- once it flies.
Even prior to its first launch, SpaceX has several customers
waiting to launch their payloads aboard the Falcon 1. The company
reports eight firm launch contracts representing nearly $200
million, with three Falcon 1 launches scheduled over the next
twelve months and the Falcon 9 debut is planned for late 2007.