Sad breaking news… snagged this from Neowin.net:
At 11:36 pm EDT August 2, 2008 the Falcon 1 lost contact with the base in Hawthorn, California.
After aborting the launch at .5 seconds, the counter was reset to 11 minutes and launch countdown was reinitiated. At one minute cheers from the staff began and finally the Falcon 1 blasted off.
Unfortunately after T+140s when the vehicle switched to inertial guidance mode at an altitude of 35 km, all contact was lost. Staff at SpaceX stated that an anomaly occurred and immediately cut feed to the webcast.
The Falcon 1 was carrying the Trailblazer, two CubeSats for the Air Force and MDA and unfortunately also carried the remains of astronaut Gordon Cooper and the actor James Doohan from Star Trek.
More updates to come as information is available.
That really stinks. From Space.com:
0355 GMT (11:55 p.m. EDT)
No further information is available from SpaceX at this time.
To recap, the third flight of the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket began at 11:34 p.m. EDT (0334 GMT) today from Omelek Island in the Kwajalein Atoll of the Central Pacific Ocean.
An initial countdown experienced a shutdown of the main engine moments before liftoff due to a propulsion system perimeter being slightly out of limits, SpaceX said. But the launch team was able to resolve the issue quickly. Another countdown was started and the rocket lifted off just 34 minutes later.
Climbing skyward on the power of its kerosene-fueled Merlin 1C engine, the rocket was headed for orbit to deploy the U.S. military’s Trailblazer satellite as part of the Operationally Responsive Space effort and NASA’s PharmaSat Risk Evaluation spacecraft and the NanoSail-D solar sail payload.
A video camera mounted on the rocket appeared to show some oscillations during the ascent. Whether that was normal or a sign of trouble is not yet clear.
About two minutes, 20 seconds into the ascent, the video broadcast provided by SpaceX was abruptly terminated. A company spokesperson then said there had been “an anomaly” with the launch vehicle.
“We are hearing from the launch control center that there has been an anomaly on the vehicle,” said Max Vozoff, a mission manager at SpaceX. “We don’t have any information about what that anomaly is at this time. We will, of course, be doing an assessment of the situation and providing information as soon as it becomes available.”
To quote the brother of the CEO:
We have two more Falcon 1′s right behind this one, no matter what happened.
Let’s hope all goes well next time around…. this is gonna turn out to be a very expensive anomaly, methinks.
Update… here’s a picture right before the feed was cut and the anomaly was detected:
Sad, sad stuff.