Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), has successfully launched the "first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to orbit the Earth". On the company's fourth attempt, the Falcon 1 rocket was launched at 4:15 PM PDT on September 28, and carried a simulated satellite payload to a 500 km x 700 km elliptical orbit.
According to the company's website, the Falcon 1 is just the first of a family of launch vehicles SpaceX is developing to support both manned and unmanned missions. The company has been contracted for three demonstration launches of its planned manned vehicle system, the Falcon 9 rocket with its Dragon crew vehicle. SpaceX notes it is the "only...contender that has the capability to return pressurized cargo and crew to Earth. The first Falcon 9 will arrive at the SpaceX launch site (complex 40) at Cape Canaveral by the end of 2008 in preparation for its maiden flight in 2009."
Private Earth Orbits
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