Space The Final Frontier

Low-cost rocket finally gets to orbit 9:43 PM EST September 28, 2008 SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket rises Sunday from its launch pad on Omelek
Island in the Pacific Ocean.© SpaceX
After three unsuccessful tries, SpaceX launched its two-stage Falcon 1 rocket into orbit for the first time on Sunday - potentially changing the cost equation for spaceflight. "That was frickin' awesome," Elon Musk, SpaceX's millionaire founder and chief executive officer, told cheering employees at the six-year-old company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. "There were a lot of people who thought we couldn't do it ... but, you know, as the saying goes, 'The fourth time's the charm,'" he said after the rocket soared into orbit from its launch pad on Omelek Island, 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. The ascent to orbit was broadcast live on the Web, from cameras positioned on the ground as well on the rocket itself. Success after failure The launch company's first undisputed success came after an oh-so-close failure on Aug. 2, when the timing was off on the shutdown of the Falcon 1's first-stage engine. Instead of separating cleanly, the first stage bumped into the second stage and knocked it off course. That led to the loss of three satellites, including a NASA prototype solar sail and small experimental satellites from NASA as well as the Defense Department.
The rocket that failed last month also carried cremated remains from more than 200 people who had paid thousands of dollars to have the ashes sent to the final frontier. Among the dearly departed: Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper as well as James Doohan, who played the engineer Scotty on the original "Star Trek" TV series. (1†of†3)
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