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SpaceX Falcon 1

The SpaceX Falcon 1 is a commercial spacecraft developed by rather wealthy Elon Musk. The Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Falcon 1 has had several test flights from its staging area in the Marshall Islands.

SpaceX Falcon 1

The main SpaceX headquarters in is El Segundo, California, which is where the bulk of the development work is completed before shipping parts of the rocket off to Omelek Island in the Kwajalein Atoll where it is reassembled for final launch.

As with many other developmental space tourist crafts by other companies, the SpaceX Falcon 1 has had many aborted launches along with its two main test flights. The two test flights of the Falcon 1 took place on March 24, 2006 and again on March 21, 2007.

One of the remarkable features of the second launch of the SpaceX Falcon 1 was that even though there were two aborted launches within a 24-hour period, the reasons for the aborted launches were fixed quickly and the spacecraft was able to launch once again.

The Falcon 1 is powered by a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene. The second launch was aborted by the computer because the fuel was 4-degrees F too cold. The solution was to drain back the fuel on the first stage of the rocket and reload with warmer fuel.

On the 2006 maiden flight, the main engine of the SpaceX Falcon 1 failed after 36 seconds of flight. Elon Musk and his main flight director Tim Buzza reviewed the video and found the cause of the malfunction was due to a corroded aluminum nut on the fuel pump, which caused a fuel leak. Officials from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) later confirmed the findings.

The SpaceX Merlin engine powers the Falcon 1 rocket with a sea level thrust of 102,000 lbs of pressure. The outer shell of the Merlin is made from a single piece of cast copper with hundreds of grooves keeping it cool. The engine is reusuable and is based upon the engine in the Apollo Lunar Module.

Billionaire Elon Musk is best known for co-founding startup companies like Paypal and Zip2. Musk sold Paypal to Ebay for a cool $1.5 billion and so far has sunk $100,000,000 of his own money into the SpaceX space tourism program.

Next on the agenda for Musk is the SpaceX Falcon 9, which will use 9 Merlin engines to propel it into space. The SpaceX Falcon 9 is intended to carry up to 7 passengers to the International Space Station and back.

One of the main objectives of SpaceX is to build cost-effective rockets. The company is doing so with technical design but also by having less bureaucracy than other space tourism companies currently developing their spacecraft and programs.

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