Monday, May 19, 2008

SpaceX hopes third time is a charm

The third launch attempt for SpaceX's small Falcon 1 orbital launcher is now set for late June. SpaceX founder Elon Musk disavows a "stupid comment" (his words) he made three years ago, when he said that three failures might be it. He told reporters on May 14, ""I was asked, 'how many failures can you withstand?' I said, 'well, if we had three failures in a row, then I suspect we would not get any customers, and then it wouldn't make sense to continue.' I was partially quoted thereafter saying, 'three failures and we're out.' That's actually not the full statement. The full statement was if our customers abandon us, then we are out." He added, "We are in this for the long term. SpaceX will never give up. I will never give up. Never."
SpaceX has an order book of 12 payloads awaiting launch.
COMMENT: SpaceX has two things other small entrepreneurial launch efforts did not have: solid customer commitments and significant internal funding. I know these folks and understand their technical approach. The failures were disheartening (and I thought not making orbit on the second attempt was surprising), but I think they will make it work.

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