SpaceX Falcon 1 Suffers “Anomaly” During Ascent, Assumed Lost

Falcon 1 launch in 2007 (SpaceX)
Falcon 1 launch in 2007 (SpaceX)

Sad news. In a surprise announcement today, SpaceX revealed they had opened a window for their Falcon 1 to launch. Unfortunately, 140 seconds into the ascent, Falcon 1 suffered an undisclosed anomaly and the live video feed was cut. According to one comment left on the article I was updating over at the Universe Today to cover this historic event, the rocket suffered a “roll oscillation” (thank you Steve) shortly before contact was lost. Due to a poor video stream in my location, I did not witness this. Immediately after the screen went blank; the SpaceX commentators (Max Vozoff and Emily Shanklin, obviously upset) reported that Falcon 1 had suffered an “anomaly.” Looking at the most recent launch update, the rocket had reached 35 km in altitude and had attained an ascent velocity of 1050 m/s. The video feed was cut soon after T+140 seconds and after the short message by Max, the feed was pulled off-air and the credits rolled. A sad day for SpaceX and commercial spaceflight…

We are hearing from the launch control center that there has been an anomaly on the vehicle. 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.” – Max Vozoff, SpaceX mission manager commenting during the feed.

For more details on this bad news, check out the Universe Today article. SpaceX will possibly announce a press release shortly to detail what went wrong. Our thoughts are with the engineers and scientists at SpaceX.

5 thoughts on “SpaceX Falcon 1 Suffers “Anomaly” During Ascent, Assumed Lost”

  1. Well, shucks, it’s sad news.

    OTOH, consider that the SpaceX people (a) had a propellant loading problem. (a1) fixed it, (b) had a launch abort at about -7 seconds in the coundown, (b1) fixed it, (c) launched within their time window, (d) survived Max-Q without apparent difficulty, and (e) evidentally encountered a roll/oscillation problem which killed the vehicle before staging.

    Shucks again, but they did all that IN ONE DAY. 50 years ago, encountering those mishaps and figuring ways around them would have taken months, and likely a much larger crew. Believe me, reasonable progress is being made.

  2. Hi Mike, I’m with you on this one. This is by no means a “mission failure,” but it’s just very unfortunate Falcon 1 was carrying science and other payloads. These were fee-paying customers and now their confidence will be knocked. I was actually quite surprised to hear they had customers investing so much so soon. Granted, if they had already had a successful test flight it would have been cool, but they took a risk and it didn’t pan out. I just hope there is enough funds and energy and will to carry on!

    Good luck to SpaceX is what I say

    Cheers, Ian

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