After three failed attempts, one scattering of Scotty's ashes over the Pacific Ocean, and a few mid-air explosions, the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket has finally reached orbit. The achievement marks a major milestone for Elon Musk, whose visions of a privately-funded rocket program appeared just out of reach until today's success.
At the SpaceX web site, the feat was documented in a kind of flipbook format, with a series of photos showing the rocket launch from an on board camera from launch to orbit.
"Fourth time's a charm," Musk said in a statement. No kidding, but congratulations on this 100% private effort nonetheless.
Noted Slashdot contributor dbullard, "This was a completely new vehicle — it's not using any previously developed hardware. All developed from scratch. No government supplied hardware, Russian engines, or old ICBM motors. My hat's off to the employees of Space X — all 550 of them. (Note — no 'cast of thousands,' just 550)."
The next Falcon 1 launch will carry RazakSat into orbit for Malaysia. If that launch is successful, the larger Falcon 9 rocket will take flight for the first time sometime in Q2 2009. [SpaceX via Slashdot]