SpaceX to Launch Razaksat in Mid-July

SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket takes off on first successful flight.
SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket takes off on first successful flight.

SpaceX’s launch of Malaysia’s Razaksat remote sensing satellite has been rescheduled for mid-July, a two-month slip from its original April 21 launch date.

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Elon Musk: Rocket King, Tabloid Fodder

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX

Another Big Moment for Elon Musk
Air & Space Magazine

At 37 years old, Elon Musk is poised to become either the Henry Ford or the Howard Hughes of his generation. If his Falcon rockets and Tesla electric cars succeed, he’ll revolutionize 21st century transportation. If they don’t, he’ll likely be remembered as a colorful, clever, but ultimately irrelevant tinkerer. After all, Neil Young has an electric car, too.

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SpaceX Falcon 1 Launch Delayed 6 Weeks

SpaceX is looking at about a six-week delay on the launch of its next Falcon 1 rocket, The New Straits Times reports:

The launch of the RazakSAT, Malaysia’s second remote sensing satellite has been postponed until further notice due to “technical problems”.

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SpaceX to Launch Falcon 1 Rocket on April 21

SpaceX has confirmed the date for its next Falcon 1 launch as April 21. The rocket will take off from Omelek Island in the Marshall Islands with Malaysia’s RazakSAT communications satellite and two secondary payloads. It will be the El Segundo, Calif.-based company’s fifth launch of the rocket, which has succeeded one and failed three times.

Next Falcon 1 Launch Set for April 21

It looks like SpaceX’s next launch of the Falcon 1 rocket will occur on April 21. Malaysia’s The Star website is reporting that its RazakSAT will be launched from Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands on that date.

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SpaceX Gets Environmental OK for Falcon Launches

The Federal Aviation Administration has given its OK for SpaceX to launch Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launches. In a report, the agency said the launches will pose “no significant short-term or long-term effects to the environment or surrounding populations.”

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Can Musk Reduce Launch Costs By 10X? If So, What Does It Mean for Payload Costs

The Musk Factor: reducing the cost of spaceflight
Examiner.com

“With his new line of Falcon rockets, Elon Musk plans to reduce NGEO cargo transport costs from $10,000/lb to around $1000/lb. His target “Musk Factor” savings is therefore 10x. The first successful Falcon 1 launch on September 28, 2008 and an upcoming first attempt to launch a larger Falcon 9 rocket suggest Musk is once again traveling down the lucrative road to success.

“However, the Futron study raises a key question: Even if SpaceX succeeds, how will payload efficiencies affect Falcon launch costs? Even with the right technology and a string of launch successes, Musk might not achieve his 10x reduction in NGEO cost per pound… or conversely, the effective savings could actually be higher for efficiently packed payloads.”

SpaceX to Try to Recover Falcon First Stage for Reuse This Year

SpaceX Aims For 2009 Re-usability Demo
Aviation Week

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) hopes to recover the spent first stage of its Falcon 1 launcher as early as the upcoming fifth test flight, says CEO and chief technical officer Elon Musk.

The successful recovery of the used first stage is an important milestone for SpaceX, which is determined to reduce the cost of access to space in part by increasing the re-usability of rocket sections. The second stage also is designed to be recovered, though this is a more serious technical challenge, Musk says.

Musk Promises to Revitalize American Competitiveness with Falcon Launchers

Low costs, high hopes for SpaceX: SpaceX to delay launch, pleased with its place in competitive field
Florida Today

As NASA struggles to replace the aging space shuttle, commercial spacecraft builders like Musk are seen as major players in the launch business. Some 80 percent of the multi-billion dollar satellite launch business now goes to the Russians and Ukrainians, who have under-priced American companies, Musk said.

“That’s because the U.S. launch vehicles are not cost-competitive,” Musk said Wednesday. “That’s going to change with Falcon 9. There’s actually a pretty big launch market out there.”

Elon’s is Trash Talking Again

Forget the bungalow, retire to Mars
The Sunday Times

In an open-plan office just feet from rocket scientists designing his next generation of launch vehicles, Musk is frank about his long-term aims: “We are already the most competitive launch company in the world. My goal is to make it affordable enough and reliable enough to move life from Earth to other planets.”

Editor’s Note: Dude, before you can make a claim like that, don’t you need an actual track record of launching stuff into orbit? You’ve had one successful launch out of four attempts, but it didn’t actually have a satellite on board. Everything you have launched for customers is lying at the bottom of the Pacific.

It’s easy to set very low prices (ala Silicon Valley software) and trash talk your competitors. But, until you’ve launched a rocket 35 or 40 times you haven’t proven your reliability or cost models at all.

SpaceX Lays Out Ambitious Schedule for Falcon 9 Launches

SpaceX vice president and general counsel Tim Hughes laid out the company’s ambitious launch schedule for its Falcon 9 vehicle during a presentation to the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) on October 30. The company envisions the first test flight taking place in the second quarter of next year, with three astronauts flying to the International Space Station aboard a Dragon spacecraft sometime in 2011.

The schedule is as follows:

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Pike: Musk’s Cost Estimates are Crap

Elon Musk’s vision: to change the course of humanity
SiliconValley.com

Plenty of people doubt that Musk will succeed anytime soon in developing a fully reusable booster.

They include John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, an aerospace information Web site, who says a fully reusable rocket is akin to a car that gets 300 miles to the gallon and sells for $1,000.

“He doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Pike said. “He has fallen into the hands of a bunch of people who have convinced him that they are smarter than everybody else.

“When they come out and say it’s going to be 10 times cheaper,” Pike said, “I want to find out what they are smoking.”