SpaceX Finally Reaches Orbit

What do you know?  The fourth time is the charm, at least for the Falcon 1 two-stage SpaceX rocket.  This was the fourth flight of the rocket, and it became the first commercial space vehicle to reach earth orbit.

Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, who made his fortune as co-founder of PayPal prior to starting this space venture, said:

"This is a great day for SpaceX and the culmination of an enormous amount of work by a great team. The data shows we achieved a super precise orbit insertion—middle of the bull's-eye — and then went on to coast and restart the second stage, which was icing on the cake."

Of course, the saddest part about the failure of flight 3 was the loss of not just three government satellites, but for space juinkies, the loss of the human ashes of astronaut Gordon Cooper and "Star Trek" actor James Doohan (Scotty).  Flight 4 carried only a dummy payload of 364 pounds.

Falcon 1 is a 70-foot-long rocket powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene, but the company is also developing a larger launch vehicle, the Falcon 9, for NASA. That vehicle is designed to be capable of flying to the International Space Station (ISS), for use when the space shuttle fleet retires in 2010.

Watch a video of the launch below.

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