SpaceX Announces Launch Date for the Falcon 1: The World's Lowest Cost Rocket to Orbit


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El Segundo, CA – November 18, 2005 – On Friday, November 25 at 1 p.m. (PST), the Falcon 1 countdown to launch is expected to reach T-Zero. At that point, the hold-down clamps will release and the Falcon 1 rocket will begin its journey to orbit, accelerating to 17,000 mph (twenty-five times the speed of sound) in less than ten minutes.

Designed from the ground up by SpaceX, Falcon 1 is a two stage rocket powered by liquid oxygen and purified, rocket grade kerosene. On launch day, Falcon 1 will make history for several reasons:

  • It will be the first privately developed, liquid fueled rocket to reach orbit and the world's first all new orbital rocket in over a decade.
  • The main engine of Falcon 1 (Merlin) will be the first all new American hydrocarbon booster engine to be flown in forty years and only the second new American booster engine of any kind in twenty-five years.
  • The Falcon 1 is the only rocket flying 21 st century avionics, which require a small fraction of the power and mass of other systems.
  • It will be the world's only semi-reusable orbital rocket apart from the Shuttle (all other launch vehicles are completely expendable).
  • Most importantly, Falcon 1, priced at $6.7 million, will provide the lowest cost per flight to orbit of any launch vehicle in the world, despite receiving a design reliability rating equivalent to that of the best launch vehicles currently flying in the United States.

The maiden flight will take place from the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. The customer for this mission is DARPA and the Air Force and the payload will be FalconSat-2, part of the Air Force Academy’s satellite program that will measure space plasma phenomena, which can adversely affect space-based communications, including GPS and other civil and military communications. The target orbit is 400 km X 500 km (just above the International Space Station) at an inclination of 39 degrees.

About SpaceX

SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of access to space by a factor of ten.  SpaceX is the third company founded by Elon Musk. Previously he co-founded PayPal, the world's leading electronic payment system, which was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. In 1995, Mr. Musk co-founded Zip2, which sold to Compaq Computer Corporation for more than $300 million.

Launch Viewing for Media on Friday, November 25, 2005

The live feed of this historic launch will be available to the media at SpaceX Headquarters in El Segundo, CA – five minutes south of Los Angeles International Airport. Media check-in will begin at 12:00 p.m. PST on launch day. The launch window is 1 – 5 p.m. (PST). Food and beverages will be made available.

To attend the launch viewing event, media must contact SpaceX at 310-414-6555 ext 283 or news@spacex.com. Please provide full name, affiliation, citizenship and date of birth. Media not able to attend may listen and ask questions through a moderated telephone conference line. The toll free conference dial-in number is (866) 209-6438. The international access dial-in number is (865) 297-1127. Please contact SpaceX for the participant code to join the media viewing event.

Still photos and videos of the launch will be made available on www.spacex.com within a couple of hours of the launch.

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