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.