The latest news in the private space flight game is, well, let's call it mixed:
The second test flight of the privately-built Falcon 1 rocket failed to reach its intended orbit late Tuesday, nearly one year to the day of the booster's ill-fated spaceflight debut.
The two-stage Falcon 1 rocket shot spaceward [image] from its Pacific island launch site at 9:10 p.m. EDT (0110 March 21 GMT), but suffered a roll control malfunction 186 miles (300 kilometers) above Earth before completing its flight plan, its Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) builders said. The rocket was intended to end its mission about 10 minutes after liftoff at an altitude of about 425 miles (685 kilometers).
CEO Elon Musk is putting the best spin (heh) possible on it, though:
The fact that the Falcon 1 rocket lifted off from its Kwajalein Atoll launch site in the Pacific Ocean, experienced successful first-stage and payload fairing separations [image] -- as well as the ignition of its second stage -- proved that hundreds of booster improvements incorporated into the vehicle since its first March 2006 failure were a success, the SpaceX chief said.
"We successfully reached space, and really retired almost all of the risk associated with the rocket," Musk added.
So, what do we learn from this? Well, that sending rockets into space is really difficult. As if there were any doubt.
I'd be a little nervous if I were working on the NRL satellite they're supposed to launch later this year, though.