Another step toward a new age
Elon Musk's Falcon 1 rocket made a very impressive takeoff today, setting a series of records and making Space Exploration Technologies only the second company ever to send a privately-financed rocket into space (after Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, which flew SpaceShipOne to 100 km three times in 2004). In the process, it set a variety of records, including the highest flight of a private rocket, at 300 km.
The flight ultimately failed, as the second stage went into an oscillation that caused the engine to shut down prematurely. But Musk is confident that the most important objectives were achieved -- a successful first stage liftoff and flight, second-stage separation, fairing separation, second-stage ignition and initial stable flight.
The live webcast was very impressive, showing the whole flight from an onboard camera -- a trick even NASA only learned to do relatively recently. I hope they post a copy of it on their website ( www.spacex.com )