SpaceX Gets Good Luck Rolling Again With Orbcomm Launch
After three delays, the spaceflight company finally launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying six satellites into orbit, the latest good news for SpaceX.By Jay Strubberg | July 14, 2014
For SpaceX founder Elon Musk, it might as well be: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again and again ... and again. (Via Getty Images)
In its fourth attempt and after months of delays, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its way to deliver six commercial satellites into orbit Monday.
Well, the launch was at least halfway successful. It was partly meant to test whether SpaceX could reuse its rocket boosters, and that portion of the project didn't fair so well.
Musk tweeted that even though most of the systems worked, the boosters were destroyed at splashdown. Or, as he puts it: "aka kaboom."
Though Musk seemed uncertain whether the damage came from the splash itself or from the "subsequent body slam." Thanks for putting it in terms we can understand, Elon. (Via Twitter / @elonmusk)
Aside from Falcon 9's rough landing, SpaceX has had a lot to be happy about lately.
Monday's launch was part of a huge $230 million deal between the upstart spaceflight company and satellite company Orbcomm to create a "17-satellite constellation" projected to be completed by the end of year. (Via Youtube / ORBCOMMAIS)
And according to the Los Angeles Times, last week the U.S. Air Force certified SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket after mulling over data from three successful missions over the past year.
That, and the fact the Falcon 9 apparently has more muscle than its competitors to carry the government's heavier satellites.
This would at least put SpaceX on a level playing field for some high-dollar government contracts with a couple major-league companies.
Previously, the Pentagon exclusively relied on Boeing and Lockhead Martin — operating together as United Launch Alliance. The corporate giants have held a de facto monopoly on government spy satellite contracts, but Musk wants to end that.
Bloomberg says SpaceX filed a lawsuit against the Air Force in April saying it should break up the stranglehold United Launch Alliance has on the market.
The lawsuit is also kind of interesting because the Air Force could potentially be — if Musk has his way — the upstart company's biggest customer down the road.