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Harder Than It Seems?

It seems building a rocket is a bit trickier than setting up a

The SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket is headed for a September delivery to Launch Complex 3 West at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Once in position, the launcher will undergo an on-the-pad firing of its main engine, leading to a potential first flight towards the end of November.

Not quite the January 22nd launch date announced this time last year.

Falcon 1 is a two stage, liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene powered launch vehicle. The vehicle?s main engine is called Merlin, with a SpaceX Kestrel engine powering the booster?s second stage. Falcon?s first stage is also rigged for a water landing under parachute, to be picked up by a ship in a process similar to recovery of the space shuttle solid rocket boosters.

SpaceX is developing a five-engine version of the single-engine Falcon 1 booster — the Falcon 5 — that is slated to be completed for launch in mid-2005.

It’s good to be ambitious, but can they deliver? I seem to remember someone else leapfrogging to a larger vehicle before his small vehicle was ready to fly…

“A lot depends on our first launch,” Musk said. “Even though I really want to launch as soon as possible, I don?t want to take any chances. I?d rather be late than sorry.”

Well, you certainly got the former…just cross your fingers that you don’t get the latter as well.

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