How about this for a mixed bag of space rocket news: The space shuttle Endeavour’s launch was delayed again yesterday – more bad weather. But the company hoping to replace the shuttle when it retires, SpaceX, did manage to successfully hoik a satellite into orbit on their Falcon-1 vehicle.
The space shuttle will try again tomorrow, with NASA predicting that the weather in Florida will be kinder to them by then: “The outlook is better on Wednesday, with only a 40 percent chance of weather conditions prohibiting liftoff” (press release).
SpaceX, meanwhile, successfully launched their Falcon 1 rocket from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on the island of Omelek. You can watch it for yourself here. The rocket was carrying with it a Malaysian imaging satellite, which is now in orbit. This, the second successful and fifth overall launch attempt for the company will be seen as significant step: Two successful launches in a row and a paying customer’s satellite in orbit to boot.
So, why then should we hear that another communications satellite company, Avanti, wanted to raise money so it can avoid using the next-generation SpaceX rocket Falcon-9? According to this report the reason Avanti raised the $68 million was to switch from an as-yet unbuilt Falcon-9 launcher to the more commonly used Ariane-5. Why would they do that? Well, the report suggests that it’s to soothe the worries of nervous investors, seeing as Falcon-9’s inaugural launch didn’t happen in 2007 as first planned, but is now slated for later this year.