Last night the Falcon 1 two stage rocket by private company SpaceX failed 2 minutes after launch. The “picture perfect” stage 1 launch was followed by an anomaly that kept the two stages from separating. The rocket fell into the Pacific Ocean.
Three satellites were on board, NASA had two: a small automated laboratory, and a solar sail experiment. The third was from Celestis, Inc., which contained the cremains of 208 people.
Star Trek actor James “Scotty” Doohan’s ashes were to be delivered by the “Explorers Flight” program from Celestis. In 2007 Doohan’s ashes were lost in New Mexico for three weeks after a quick 4-minute sub orbital flight.
SpaceX, founded by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk, issued a statement committing the program to go forward:
SpaceX will not skip a beat in execution going forward…We have the resolve, we have the financial base, and we have the expertise.
According to the NY Times it’s not unreasonable to lose single-use rocket vehicles in the early stages of development, as test flights are not possible. Single use, means single use.
The other two failures for SpaceX were in March 2006, and March 2007.