SpaceX Launch Could Bring Earth Observation Boom

by Matt Ball on September 29, 2008

The launch of the private SpaceX rocket Falcon1 was successful. The private company, largely funded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, suffered failures in previous attempts, but this fourth launch went without a hitch. It’s the first privately funded launch vehicle to reach orbit.

This development could give a huge boost to earth observation satellites, as the company hopes to reduce the cost of space launches by half. The current costs of a satellite launch by primary defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing puts launch costs at roughly $10,000 per pound, and there are a backlog of satellites waiting to get into orbit. Recall the trouble GeoEye had in scheduling the launch of their GeoEye-1 satellite that successfully reached orbit earlier this month aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket after many launch delays.

The next SpaceX launch is scheduled to carry the Malaysian Razaksat-1 earth observation satellite into orbit. The launch could occur as early as January 2009.

A video of the complete launch can be viewed on YouTube, including video feeds from the rocket itself.

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