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Private spaceflight firm SpaceX received another setback as its Falcon 1 rocket failed to make orbit over the weekend, marking the third time the firm has been unable to reach outer space. The first time came back in March 2006 when a fuel line leak and subsequent fire due to a corroded nut ended the operation. Then again in March 2007, the Falcon 1's second stage engine shut down because of a fuel slosh and roll control issues just before reaching orbit.
This time it was the failure of two rocket stages to separate that ended the mission about two minutes and 20 seconds into launch. The Falcon 1 was attempting to carry a small satellite called Trailblazer for the Pentagon's Operationally Responsive Space Office, as well as two small NASA satellites.
"It was obviously a big disappointment not to reach orbit on this Flight 3 of the Falcon 1," said Elon Music, SpaceX chairman and CEO. "On the plus side, the flight of our first stage, with the new Merlin 1C engine that will be used in Falcon 9, was picture perfect. Unfortunately, a problem occurred with stage separation, causing the stages to be held together."
Undeterred by the third failed attempt, Musk promised to move forward with plans for a fourth flight, while also continuing to develop Falcon 9 and Dragon thanks to a recent "major investment."
Image Credit: SpaceX