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Falcon 1 declared operational
Posted: Thu, Mar 29, 2007, 2:07 PM ET (1807 GMT)
Falcon 1 launch on 2nd mission (SpaceX) SpaceX announced this week that their Falcon 1 small launch vehicle is now ready to enter service, despite a test flight last week that was not completely successful. The vehicle listed off March 20 on a test flight, but the second stage engine shut down early and prevented it from reaching orbit. The company believes that sloshing of liquid oxygen in the second stage caused the entire stage to oscillate beyond the capable of the vehicle's control system to compensate. Exacerbating the problem was an expected contact between a portion of the first stage with the nozzle of the second stage engine during stage separation; the contact did not damage the nozzle but the force of the impact caused a perturbation that led to the later oscillation problems. SpaceX said they are implementing a number of fixes to resolve the problems, and are planning their next launch, carrying the Defense Department's experimental TacSat 1 spacecraft, in September. That will be followed in November by the launch of the Malaysian satellite RazakSat.
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