Falcon 1 suffers launch failure

by Chris Bergin

SpaceX’s Falcon 1 has been lost, just seconds after its debut launch today.

Moments after launching from its launch pad at the Kwajalein Atoll, the vehicle was seen spinning out of control, before communication and its downlink was lost. SpaceX have confirmed the rocket was destroyed.

We have a video of the failure available for download. Read more for details.

‘I have heard word that we did lose the vehicle,’ said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX vice president of business development. ‘We did have successful lift-off until a minute or two into the flight.

‘As soon as we have information we will post information onto the site. We did lose the feed from Kwajalein; that happens pretty often here.

‘We did have a successful lift-off, but the vehicle did not succeed after that.

‘Clearly this is a setback, but we are here for the long haul.’

With just over an hour remaining in the count, a hold was called and the countdown clock re-set to T-1hr 15mins and holding, while an impact limit line was worked.

The hold was caused by the first stage recovery ship being in the hazard zone.

Once back out of the hold, the countdown proceeded normally, with lift-off occurring at 22:30 UTC (2:30pm Californian time).

Live video was shown of the vehicle’s ascent from an onboard downward pointing camera. Within a few seconds the feed started to become intermittent.

The small amount of imagery available showed a bright yellow glow protruding away from the normal exhaust pattern, as the rocket began to roll violently.

The ascent profile also appeared to be more horizontal than what would be expected for that stage of the ascent.

The video then cut out completely – with SpaceX confirming the rocket had been lost just moments later.

‘We had a successful liftoff and Falcon made it well clear of the launch pad,’ added SpaceX founder Elon Musk, ‘but unfortunately the vehicle was lost later in the first stage burn.

‘More information will be posted once we have had time to analyze the problem.’

Further articles will follow, pending more information from SpaceX.

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