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Space Science

Falcon-1 X-Prize Entry Nears First Flight 17

hpulley writes "With the X-Prize January 1, 2005 deadline looming closer, these announcements are becoming more common. The SpaceX Eagle-1 spacecraft is being readied for a possible November launch, after some static engine testing. There are plans for a larger Falcon-5 with 5 engines instead of one to be launched in 2005. At costs of around $6 and $12 million, respectively, for the launch vehicles it appears that the dream of affordable launch vehicles may finally come true. If you check the manifest you'll see they actually have three contracted and two tentative launch contracts through next year." Well, not quite affordable for everyone just yet, but not a bad pricetag for a millionaire.
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Falcon-1 X-Prize Entry Nears First Flight

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  • The wealthiest man in the world, who tries to take over any market that appears to be about to boom, has not bothered funding his own space flight project.

    Then again, he always did wait until a boom had already occurred before jumping in (like the internet, for example).

    Heh, 'sides... would anyone actually want to fly on something made by the people who bring you the BSOD?

    Maybe it was a good business-decision after-all. ;)

  • by Tom Rothamel ( 16 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:58AM (#9989534) Homepage
    Falcon-1 (not Eagle-1) and Falcon-5 aren't contenders for the X-Prize. The X-Prize is for a reusable manned craft to make it into space twice in two weeks. The Falcon rockets are not reusable (except potentially for the first stage), nor or they manned, and they are intended to launch satellites into orbit, not passengers into the much easier suborbital trajectory.

    The general hope is that the Falcon-series will be able to do unmanned space launch for significantly less that existing designs, both saving clients money and letting SpaceX profit.
  • by zakalwe ( 79677 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:03AM (#9989563)
    CowboyNeal, please, why did you have involve the X-Prize in the post? The launch in November is not to try and win the X-Prize, and as far as I know they are not participating in the Ansari X-Prize at all. It's just another company getting in on putting payloads in space, and not even human payloads.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Please, please don't let this misinformation hit the main page.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @12:51PM (#9992521) Homepage Journal
    for this to be cheap. A mere millionaire (somebody making a million a year) will need 6-21 years to pay for this.
    • 1) A "mere millionaire" is not someone making a million a year, it's someone who has a million. They could be unemployed and starving yet living in a house that's worth a million.

      2) A 747 costs well over a hundred million, yet I can afford to fly on one. The airlines don't make you buy the airplane before they'll give you a ticket, and I see no reason why space travel will be any different.

      • Didn't matter anyway- a later post (or was it an earlier one) revealed this to be a badly written synopsis to begin with- they ain't launching people, they're launching satelites, and they're not in competition for the Ansari X-Prize.

        I can imagine machines, which don't need life support, to be WAY easier to launch than people, and thus cost less.
  • by Nano2Sol ( 806181 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:04PM (#9993370) Homepage
    Elon Musk the founder of SpaceX [] did not start this company to compete for the X-Prize and indeed the Falcon is not even competing for the prize. Instead Elon has loftier goals. After being very successful in the tech world he decided to turn his passsion into reality now that he had the money to do so. But he is a businessman first and foremost. Which means he was not about to dump money into a competition with no real business plan going forward. Instead he researched the market to try and find a niche he could enter. The low end market was needing of a cheap, reliable alternative. So he started SpaceX. To do this he needed to create 'new technology', a leap that would bring the cost down. He appears to have succeeded, we won't know until he has a successful launch. But if he does succeed then he will have brought the cost of launch down and created a market for himself.

    While not as lucrative as PayPal which he co-founded, he will have created a legitimate business in an area he is passionate about.

    What does this mean for the future? I think when all the X-Prize hype has evaporated people will pay more attention to what SpaceX has developed. Which is cheaper, partly reusable rockets. And although his rockets are not man rated, yet, anyone who knows Elon knows what he wants for the future of space exploration.

There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak