Entrepreneur Hopes To Develop Alternative To Soyuz
Normally a peaceful rural setting, the central Texas town of
McGregor shook, rattled and rolled last Thursday night, as Space
Exploration Technologies -- better known as SpaceX --
simultaneously fired nine Merlin 1C rocket engines in the McGregor
Business Park, reports the Temple Daily Telegram.
"Sometimes there's a rumbling sound and other times it's all of
a sudden one big boom and it shakes the walls and floors," said
Ellain Laing of Jack's Smokehouse in McGregor, but added that
they're getting used to it.
SpaceX, founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, has a $70,000 annual
lease with city on a 300-acre facility in the McGregor Business
Park. Formerly used by Beal Aerospace, the site already featured a
135 foot concrete testing tripod, perfect for testing SpaceX rocket
As ANN reported, the company's fourth Falcon I
rocket performed flawlessly in a 10-minute ride to the heavens on
Sunday. At T-plus 10 minutes, Falcon I successfully released its
dummy payload... marking a wholly successful mission for the
company, which had suffered through the failures of its first three
Musk has his sights set on a loftier goal than placing
satellites in orbit, though. Hoping to fill the gap in the US space
program between the retirement of the Shuttle program and the
launch of Ares-Orion, SpaceX plans to use the Merlin 1C engines to
power its Falcon 9, a rocket designed to transport astronauts and
cargo to the International Space Station.
Thursday night's firing was the third such test firing of the
nine Merlin 1C rocket engines together. SpaceX Business Development
Manager Lauren Dreyer explained, "Everything went beautifully. It
was another successful Falcon 9 development accomplishment. We got
all the data we needed."
Expected next is a longer 30-second performance. For an encore,
a nearly three-minute test is planned, simulating an actual