Elon Musk's effort to conquer space is finally on the road to success. The PayPal co-founder and Tesla CEO launched a rocket into space from Cape Canaveral Friday after several delays and holds made the mission seem doubtful.
The test flight was originally scheduled for 8 a.m. PST Friday but was adjusted to 10:30 a.m. PST after several delays. The launch was streamed online. It looked like the rocket was about to launch a few times, as the rocket's booster lit up. One of the holds was called with just 10 seconds until liftoff. Finally, just before noon, the Falcon 9 lifted off.
SpaceX engineer Robyn Ginguette announced the liftoff success: "We want to extend special thanks to our long time supporters, and our NASA, Government, and Commercial customers. Also, special thanks to the United States Air Force and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for their excellent, ongoing support."
The spacecraft, called the Falcon 9 rocket, was built by Musk's private spaceflight company, SpaceX and will carry a mock-up of the company's Dragon capsule. The eventual goal is to use the rockets to carry cargo and possibly even astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.
The team reported good weather at the launch site throughout the morning. But forecasters on Thursday said with the weather outlook, the Falcon 9 had a 40 percent chance to launch.
Musk's team was optimistic, though. "It would be a great day if we reach orbital velocity, but still a good day if the first stage functions correctly, even if the second stage malfunctions." They say on their site. "It would be a bad day if something happens on the launch pad itself and we’re not able to gain any flight data."
But, fear not, Earthlings. A failed launch wouldn't mean a failed mission. It would have been disappointing, but it wouldn't "make of break" the company or the commercial spaceflight industry, the SpaceX site says.