I wrote recently about how Falcon 9, a new launcher from SpaceX, was awaiting its first test launch. Well, last Friday it went off beautifully. This is the rocket that’s scheduled to take over the job of carrying cargo (and perhaps eventually people) to the International Space Station after the retirement of the shuttle fleet. This flight carried a dummy Dragon capsule into orbit. The Falcon 9 builds on the model of the Saturn 5 moon rocket, using a cluster of nine engines, and having the ability to achieve orbit even it loses an engine. It’s in the size and power class of the Delta IV and Atlas V launchers that currently serve many launch needs. But the goal of the program is to bring down the cost of launch to orbit.
Here’s a video that pretty much shows the whole flight to orbit in realtime, mostly from an onboard camera. It’s pretty cool. Note that it starts at T minus one minute, so you might want to fast forward at the beginning.
You can see a shorter “highlights” video, and lots of other info at the SpaceX website.