Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX, launched its privately developed liquid fuel rocket, Falcon 1, on Sunday, becoming the first private corporation to develop and successfully put a rocket into orbit. The company’s aim is to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of manned and unmanned space transportation by a factor of ten.
Sunday’s launch of Falcon 1 is the company’s fourth attempt to send a rocket into orbit. CEO and CTO of SpaceX and former PayPal co-founder, Elon Musk, praised the company and put the success down to the hard work of a team of over 500 people. The first launch failed because fuel line leak, while the second was lost five minutes after launching. The third was possibly the biggest disappointment. Carrying three satellites for NASA and the Department of Defense, as well as small amounts of the cremated remains of some 200 people, mission control lost contact with the shuttle shortly after the separation of the first stage.
Falcon 1 carried a payload mass simulator of approximately 364 lbs into orbit, consisting of a hexagonal aluminum alloy chamber, standing at roughly five feet tall and designed and built specifically for the mission, the payload remains attached to the second stage as it orbits the Earth.