SpaceX Falcon 9 achieves orbit on maiden flight

SpaceX Falcon 9 on its launch pad

Falcon 9 on its Cape Canaveral, Florida, launch pad

Good reportage from The Register on the huge success of Elon Musk’s maiden launch. First launches of rockets have a poor success rate (for obvious engineering reasons).

(…) The SpaceX Falcon 9 launched on its maiden flight on Friday at 11:45pm Pacific Daylight Time, 15 minutes short of the end of its four-hour launch window.…

Shortly afterward, The Reg received a SpaceX email that quoted founder Elon Musk as saying: “Nominal shutdown and orbit was almost exactly 250km. Telemetry showed essentially a bullseye: ~0.2% on perigee and ~1% on apogee.”

Bullseye, indeed. Musk had earlier said that merely achieving orbit on the Falcon 9’s first flight would be “100 per cent success” — and his two-stage, 54.9m (180ft), liquid oxygen and RP-1–fueled rocket’s payload, what Musk described as “structural test article of ourDragon spacecraft,” is at this moment zipping merrily about the globe, enjoying that success.

And success on a maiden voyage is unusual. According to a BBC report on the Falcon’s feat, two-third of rockets introduced in the past 20 years have had unsuccessful first flights.

(…)

Big congratulations to the whole SpaceX team. Please continue reading The Register coverage.