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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Private Rockets

A while back I wrote about the Copenhagen Suborbital TM65 rocket engine (see "Rocket Science 101").  Today there is an article at Wired showing the first test-firing of the TM65:

I find it interesting that Copenhagen, along with Elon Musk and SpaceX are taking over for NASA in many ways.  This morning, for example, SpaceX launched the first commercial rocket intended to dock the the international space station.

SpaceX and its Falcon rockets were viewed as a "toys" until very recently (still perhaps by some).  SpaceX is only about ten years old and privately funded.   Congress and NASA have had reservations about whether or not private companies could take the place of NASA in terms getting materials to and from the space station.

SpaceX is showing that the US can still lead in the area of space exploration.

The Falcon 9 rocket was partially funded by NASA and Elon Musk indicates that the cost was about $300 million USD (NASA figures at its "cost plus" rates the price to be $3.6 billion USD - a detailed discussion on this is here.)  The fuel cost to space for a Falcon 9 is approximately $200,000 USD.

SpaceX plans to be able to build a new Falcon 9 every six weeks at peak production.

Here is video of today's Falcon 9 launch:

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