An Internet entrepreneur’s latest effort to make space launch more affordable paid off Sunday when his commercial rocket, carrying a dummy payload, was lofted into orbit from the South Pacific.
It was the fourth attempt by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to launch its two-stage Falcon 1 rocket into orbit.
“Fourth time’s a charm,” said Elon Musk, the multimillionaire who started up SpaceX after making his fortune as the co-founder of PayPal, the electronic payment system.
The rocket carried a 364-pound dummy payload designed and built by SpaceX for the launch.
Musk pledged to continue getting rockets into orbit, saying the company has resolved design issues that plagued previous attempts.
Besides the Falcon 1, SpaceX is developing for NASA a larger launch vehicle, Falcon 9, capable of flying to the international space station when the current space shuttle fleet retires in 2010.
Musk is probably doing better than some countries have at achieving orbital flight. Though, like anyone who enters a developed field, he has the advantage of the work accomplished by those who preceded him.