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back to article Elon Musk's Falcon 1 launches successfully

Multimillionaire tech visionary Elon Musk has finally achieved a long-sought goal on the fourth attempt, as his privately-funded SpaceX Falcon 1 is now circling the Earth. The rocket, launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific, reached orbital velocity at 00:26 UK time. Falcon 1 launches from Kwajalein The pocket rocket which …

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Gold badge
Coat

And they call themselves innovative?

'.....a hexagonal aluminum alloy "payload mass simulator"........'

Booooooorrrrriiiiiiinnnnnggggg!

Next time, try something that'll cause the various people that scan the skies to remove eye from eyepiece, rub same in disbelief and then have another look.

I'm thinking washing machine here.

Yes please, the 165 kilo one. What do you mean: "It's gone"?

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Alert

"payload mass simulator"

Shame the last attempt had a real payload on it.... do'h only when it doesn't matter...

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Bronze badge

Your payload mass simulator...

...will never threaten to stab you, and in fact cannot speak.

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Paris Hilton

Sigmund Freud eat your heart out

There is something seriously disturbing about wealthy men literally showing their size off in public, by shooting their 21 m long phallicly shaped rockets into space.

Paris... well, you can work it out.

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@"payload mass simulator"

It was to carry a Malaysian satellite, but only if a Falcon 1 had previously reached orbit. The ashort interval between the third and fourth didn't allow enough time for a real payload to be flown.

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What's new?

Is there any new technology involved or this just news because it is privately funded?

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Silver badge

RE: Your payload mass simulator...

In the event that the payload mass simulator does speak, the Space Enrichment Center urges you to disregard it's advice.

The cake is a lie...

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@ What's new?

No new technology as far as I know. It's news as it's the first privately funded orbital vehicle. And also because Falcon 1 costs $7.9 million per flight, less than a third of the cost of any comparable US launch vehicle. And if as hoped, the first stage can be made reusable, the cost will fall even further .

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@What's new

In many ways there is nothing new at all, but at the same time it is all new. The technology is all well understood, solid, much dating back decades. Yet it is also an all new design, almost all in house. And no, it isn't really privately funded, NASA gave them $275m to help things along as part of the COTS programme. Of course PayPal via its sale to eBay make it possible. So what is good?

The boosters are all recovered and reusable. That is a first. But that leads to the big change:

It is cheap. A Falcon 1e flight costs peanuts. They will put one ton into low earth orbit for you for $9.1m Its bigger brother, the Falcon 9 will put 12.5 tons into LEO for $37m, or 4.6 tons into geosynchonous orbit for $58m. An equivalent Delta IV launch would be over $150m. The biggest of the family, the Falcon 9 heavy, will loft more than a Titan IV (now dead, but cost over $400m) or a Delta IV Heavy (costs at least $260m), making it one of the largest boosters available, and a launch still costs less than $100m. These numbers are game changing. About 1/3rd the current going rate. That is big.

If you compare the money invested and the prices being charged with the competition you are seeing what may be the long awaited sea change in prices for access to space. Rather than risky investments in unproven technology Spacex went proven known reliable, but with no legacy of the huge aerospace conglomerates, and the massive margins and costs associated with it. Maybe the Falcon 1 is the Model T of boosters.

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Paris Hilton

@TeeCee

Or on a similar train of thought, how about an oversized wooden Tardis, a fleet of Daleks or an X-wing or two? Or a big black blanket to block out the stars? 136kg of OHP acetate that when viewed from the correct angle on Earth makes the Moon look like the Death Star? Or even a bloody great mirror?

Honestly, these rich people have no idea how to have fun! I mean they could at least have cored out the aluminium mass and later claimed to have lost a bloody big bolt or formed it into a rude and amusing shape...

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@ Matthew

'Is there any new technology involved or this just news because it is privately funded?'

No technological breakthroughs, but new designs for engines and pumps. This is the first time a rocket has been designed by a private company without huge injections of government money, so that's new.

It will be significant if they can design a reusable liquid-fuelled first stage. These have been really troublesome because they need lots of delicate turbo-pumps and miles of plumbing which can be easily damaged when they come back to Earth. NASA scrapped reusable boosters on the Shuttle in favour of simpler, more robust SRBs - and we know how that ended up. The Soviet Union developed reusable boosters for its Energia monster rocket, but I don't think they ever got reused after the two Energia launches.

So if they can get their technology to work, they'll be able to rival the cheap Soyuz system and the Chinese Long March - which will please Western satellite companies looking to put loads into orbit without paying through the nose and without giving away their technology. Arianespace could be the big loser here as they currently only have the big Ariane V rocket. They're planning on offering Soyuz launches out of French Guyana in the near future - getting the Earth's spin to give that some extra kick compared to launching from Kazakhstan; but they're also building a small solid-fuelled booster called Vega which is due next year.

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Way to go, Elon!

Seriously. Good on him. 4th attempt and he's succeeded in getting a payload (albeit a dummy one) in orbit for a fraction of the cost of the long-established "big guys" (whom you would have though would have worked out ways of bringing the cost down by now, being experienced and all).

Frankly, his batting average is far in excess of anything NASA or the Soviets have acheived (I well remember archive footage of Goddard and friends fleeing some of their early experiments in just getting a small rocket to go straight up!)

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