28 September 2008
News - Vehicles (Good)
Falcon Flies
by Alan Breakstone
The fourth SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket was launched today, achieving a significant milestone; it's the world's first privately funded TSTO liquid rocket to achieve orbit. Even though the first three launches of the Falcon 1 were not successful, NASA and the US Department of Defense kept faith in the fledgling space company. Today, after many trials and tribulations, that faith has been rewarded.

Now SpaceX, the brainchild of wealthy Internet mogul Elon Musk, is already well under way toward achieving far loftier goals: combined with successful ground tests of the much larger Falcon 9 launcher, SpaceX is now poised to launch medium and heavy payloads into orbit for governments and private customers at potentially unprecedented low costs.

More significantly for space tourism and settlement, SpaceX is now poised to deliver on developing its Dragon reusable space capsule. Launched atop the Falcon 9, Dragon is the focus of NASAís COTS contract for regular cargo transport to the International Space Station. But it is SpaceXís intention to carry people aboard Dragon, and NASA is seriously considering Dragon and other private sector proposals for human transport to the ISS. SpaceX is also studying use of the Dragon to take people on trips around the moon.

All of these plans and more are now much more realistic with the triumphant Falcon 1 launch to orbit.
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Alan Breakstone 28 September 2008
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