First Privately Developed and Financed Rocket Reaches Orbit


Just as Chinese astronauts were returning to Earth after their first spacewalk, a bit of space history was made Sunday in the U.S. as the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket blasted into orbit from a Pacific atoll approximately 8,000 miles southwest of Los Angeles:

Reuters: "The Falcon 1 rocket launched by Space Exploration Technologies, a California company founded by Elon Musk, founder of PayPal and chairman of Tesla Motors, became the first privately developed, privately financed rocket to reach orbit at 4:26 p.m. Pacific time...By slashing the cost to reach orbit, and by giving satellite researchers and small aerospace companies a way to avoid the bureaucracy of NASA, the military or foreign launchers to reach space, Hawthorne-based SpaceX could enable a flash of space innovation the way the Apple II did in computing, said Bob Twiggs, an emeritus professor of astronautics at Stanford University."

The rocket was carrying a dummy payload. It also carried a side-mounted camera and shot a beautiful video as it soared above earth's atmosphere, showing the atoll and the curve of the earth as it climbed into orbit.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

Posted September 29, 2008 at 11:51am ETC by Andy Towle
in Los Angeles, News, Space