BEIJING, Nov. 28-- The maiden flight of a new rocket designed to break into the orbital launch business was scrubbed The Falcon 1 rocket stands atop the launch pad built on Omelek Island in the Central Pacific.( Photo: SpaceX)again Saturday in the Unted States because of problems with a liquid oxygen tank and an engine computer.
Initially slated for Friday, the launch of the Falcon 1 rocket was postponed to avoid conflicts with a missile defense system test at the request of the US Army, which owns the launch pad on Omelek Island in the Central Pacific, said a spokeswoman for Space Exploration Technologies Corp.(SpaceX), the rocket's builder.
SpaceX said in a statement it hoped to reschedule the launch within a week. The company is the latest enterprise of Elon Musk, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has risked much of his fortune on the idea of developing reliable rockets that cost a fraction of the going rate for satellite launchers.
Musk believes that he has the right formula for building reliable low-cost rockets. The Falcon 1 costs$6.7 million to launch, less than half the cost of the rockets that lift similar payload into space.
It is part of a family of rockets including the mid-size Falcon 5 and the heavy-lift Falcon 9 that the firm plans to build.
In addition to designing the rocket from scratch and taking advantage of new technologies, the Falcon rocket is cheaper because it has two stages instead of the usual three, uses fewer moving parts and takes less time to prepare for launch, the company said. The first stage is also reusable, eliminating the cost of building a new one.
"We had to sign those launches up before there was any evidence that we could put something in space," Musk said, adding he was optimistic about attracting more customers after achieving the first successful launch. Enditem