SpaceX, which I’ve covered previously, successfully launched its Falcon 1 rocket yesterday. The launch wasn’t without incident — there was a problem with the second stage after launch, and the first launch attempt was aborted at the last second — but the results were deemed enough to justify launching commercial payloads later this year.
On the latest flight, the second stage did not achieve its full speed, again because of an early shut down of the engine, this time because the vehicle began an unexpected roll.
Mr Musk said he thought this problem should be easy to fix once flight engineers had analysed the data.
“The launch was not perfect, but certainly pretty good,” he added.
“Given that the primary objectives were demonstrating responsive launch and gathering test data in advance of our first operational satellite launch later this year, the outcome was great.”
I personally see this as a huge success, because they were able to launch, reach space, and test their operational capacity. Besides all that, they were able to make fundamental improvements to their launch platform in a single year, while still targeting that $7-million-per-launch figure. Congratulations, SpaceX, and we can’t wait for the next stages!