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SpaceX is a commercial rocket company, owned by Elon Musk that has been making waves all over the news. Most recently, Musk made headlines by suing the federal government. He is protesting the fact that ULA (United Launch Alliance) has a monopoly on U.S. defense contracts. He claims that Lockheed Martin and Boeing (the two companies that make up the ULA) are in collusion with the U.S. Air Force to stomp out any competition. In retaliation ULA is accusing the start-up of cutting corners and just wants to be given a pass due to its just “trust us” attitude. ULA might have some more fuel for their flame, due to a Pressure issue forcing SpaceX’s launch to be rescheduled yesterday.
Orbcomm, the commercial satellite company that hired Musk to deliver their payload has supported the company ever since first signing a contract, in 2009, to have 17 of Orbcomm’s second generation satellites delivered into orbit. The deal was finalized less than a year after, two of Musk’s companies were on the brink of Bankruptcy at the end of 2008.
However, Orbcomm has not faltered in their support of Musk’s company. Despite this not even being the first time one of their launches had to be rescheduled, or there being a mishap coming from SpaceX’s side of the bargain. In 2012 when the test launch was first scheduled all was well inside the Dragon (the shuttle), but the Falcon 9 (the rocket) failed in breathing fire. One of the nine main rockets malfunctioned on the way up, this forced the Dragon to release its payload prematurely, leaving the satellite in low orbit before it was dragged down by the force of gravity. Luckily, the satellite lasted 50 hours in orbit, which was enough time to collect the necessary data to be ready for the next launch.
It should be mentioned, there is solid reasoning behind Orbcomm’s support. Musk promised Orbcomm two launches for $46.7 million, which is about equivalent to 75 percent of the the listed cost, of only one launch on their Falcon 9 rocket. The reason the price is so low is because the original intent was to launch the satellites one at a time, on the now discontinued Falcon 1. Chris Quilty, equity researcher at Raymond James & Associates said that Orbcomm may have gotten the best deal of its kind in history. Another impressive feat was accomplished earlier in April. After launching their upgraded Falcon 9, SpaceX successfully guided the rocket down from hyper speed into a gentle landing in the ocean. Though they were unable to reach the rocket in time due to weather conditions, it is speculated that the rocket’s gentle descent may have been the first step in creating a reusable rocket.
Yesterday’s launch was originally scheduled in May, but there were unforeseen complications in both companies products, so it was rescheduled. Eight minutes before launch yesterday, there was a small setback with the pressure of upper level propellant tanks causing the launch to be pushed back yet again. But as of 8am SpaceX’s launch has been rescheduled to 5:46pm
By Eddie Mejia