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SpaceX Prepares for Second Falcon 1 Rocket Launch

SpaceX Targets Jan. 21 Launch for Second Falcon 1 Rocket
SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket is being readied for a second test launch in January 2007. (Image credit: SpaceX.)

The privatelaunch firm SpaceExploration Technologies (SpaceX) is reviewing the results of a Thursdayrocket engine test in preparations for the second test flight of its Falcon 1booster.

The ElSegundo, California-based firm checked the Falcon1 rocket's engine during a static fire test Thursday at its Omelek Island launch pad on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

"It wentoff very well and no anomalies were detected," SpaceX CEO Elon Musktold SPACE.com late Friday of the engine test. "We're still digestingthe data from that."

If the resultsare favorable, SpaceX may prepare the Falcon 1 rocket to fly sometime during a four-daylaunch window that opens March 19. The test flight has been delayed severaltimes due to equipmentand rangesafety issues.

The plannedspace shot is a demonstration flight for the U.S. Defense Advanced ResearchProjects Agency (DARPA) and will be the second test launch of SpaceX's Falcon 1booster since its unsuccessfuldebut last year.

Since that initialflight, Musk said, SpaceX engineers have made a host of improvements to therocket and its launch site infrastructure.

The Falcon1 rocket is a 68-foot (21-meter) booster with a reusable first stage designedto parachute down to an ocean splashdown for later recovery. SpaceX hasscheduled a total of three Falcon 1 launches for 2007.

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the Space.com team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.