Press Release

Historic SpaceX Launch Set for December 19: The World’s Lowest Cost Rocket to Orbit

By SpaceRef Editor
December 15, 2005
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Historic SpaceX Launch Set for December 19: The World’s Lowest Cost Rocket to Orbit

El Segundo, CA – December 15, 2005 – On Monday, December 19 at 11 a.m. PST (7 p.m. GMT), the Falcon 1 rocket will begin its journey to orbit, accelerating to 17,000 mph (25 times the speed of sound) in less than ten minutes.   Designed from the ground up by SpaceX, Falcon 1 is a two stage rocket powered by liquid oxygen and purified, rocket grade kerosene. On launch day, Falcon 1 will launch into the history books for several notable reasons:

  • It will be the first privately developed, liquid fueled rocket to reach orbit and the world’s first all new orbital rocket in over a decade.
  • The main engine of Falcon 1 (Merlin) will be the first all new American hydrocarbon engine for an orbital booster to be flown in forty years and only the second new American booster engine of any kind in twenty-five years.
  • The Falcon 1 is the only rocket flying 21st century avionics, which require a small fraction of the power and mass of other systems.
  • It will be the world’s only semi-reusable orbital rocket apart from the Shuttle.
  • Most importantly, Falcon 1, priced at $6.7 million, will provide the lowest cost per flight to orbit of any launch vehicle in the world, despite receiving a design reliability rating equivalent to that of the best launch vehicles currently flying in the United States.

The maiden flight will take place from the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. The customer for this mission is DARPA and the Air Force.  The payload will be FalconSat-2, part of the Air Force Academy’s satellite program that will measure space plasma phenomena, which can adversely affect space-based communications, including GPS and other civil and military communications. The target orbit is 400 km X 500 km (just above the International Space Station) at an inclination of 39 degrees.

About SpaceX

SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of access to space ultimately by a factor of ten.  With the Falcon 1, Falcon 5 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, SpaceX is able to offer light, medium and heavy lift capabilities. We are able to deliver spacecraft into any inclination and altitude, from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous orbit to planetary missions.

SpaceX is the third company founded by Elon Musk. Previously he co-founded PayPal, the world’s leading electronic payment system, which was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. In 1995, Mr. Musk co-founded Zip2, which sold to Compaq Computer Corporation for more than $300 million.

Launch Viewing for Media on Monday, December 19, 2005 A live feed of this historic launch will be available to the media at SpaceX Headquarters in El Segundo, CA – five minutes south of Los Angeles International Airport.  The address is 1310 East Grand Avenue El Segundo, CA 90245. 

Media check-in will begin at 10:00 a.m. PST on launch day. The launch window is 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. (PST). Food and beverages will be made available. To attend the launch viewing event, media must contact SpaceX at 310-414-6555 ext 283 or Please provide full name, affiliation, citizenship and date of birth.

Media not able to attend may listen and ask questions through a telephone conference line that will be moderated throughout the launch window by Gwynne Shotwell, VP of Business Development at SpaceX and one of the first ten employees at the company.  Questions from media will be taken at designated intervals.  Check-in for the media phone line will begin at 10:00 a.m. PST with coverage starting at 10:30 a.m.   Accredited media can contact SpaceX for the access information to join the launch media event via phone. 

Still photos and video of the launch will be made available on within hours of the launch.

SpaceRef staff editor.