El Segundo, CA – November 18, 2005 – On Friday, November 25 at 1 p.m. (PDT), the Falcon 1 countdown to launch is expected to reach T-Zero. At that point, the hold-down clamps will release and the Falcon 1 rocket will begin its journey to orbit, accelerating to 17,000 mph (twenty-five times the speed of sound) in less than ten minutes.
Designed from the ground up by SpaceX, Falcon 1 is a two stage rocket powered by liquid oxygen and purified, rocket grade kerosene. On launch day, Falcon 1 will make history for several reasons:
* It will be the first privately developed, liquid fueled rocket to reach orbit and the world's first all new orbital rocket in over a decade.
* The main engine of Falcon 1 (Merlin) will be the first all new American hydrocarbon booster engine to be flown in forty years and only the second new American booster engine of any kind in twenty-five years.
* The Falcon 1 is the only rocket flying 21 st century avionics, which require a small fraction of the power and mass of other systems.
* It will be the world's only semi-reusable orbital rocket apart from the Shuttle (all other launch vehicles are completely expendable).
* Most importantly, Falcon 1, priced at $6.7 million, will provide the lowest cost per flight to orbit of any launch vehicle in the world, despite receiving a design reliability rating equivalent to that of the best launch vehicles currently flying in the United States.
The maiden flight will take place from the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. The customer for this mission is DARPA and the Air Force and the payload will be FalconSat-2, part of the Air Force Academy’s satellite program that will measure space plasma phenomena, which can adversely affect space-based communications, including GPS and other civil and military communications. The target orbit is 400 km X 500 km (just above the International Space Station) at an inclination of 39 degrees.