Dot-com thrillionaire Elon Musk and his company SpaceX of California suffered a painful setback today when their low-cost rocket Falcon I was lost somewhere over the Pacific Ocean just seconds after its maiden launch from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Musk, the founder and former owner of PayPal, aspires to build a new generation of affordable transportation to space. "We want to be the Southwest Airlines of space launches," he told PopSci in 2004.
The $6.7 million launch vehicle, which was carrying a U.S. Air Force FalconSat-2 satellite, cost roughly two-thirds less than satellite-launching rockets made by big-name competitors like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
SpaceX has not yet reported the cause of the failure; check out their website for the latest updates. —Nicole Dyer
Challenged by Space Adventures (which negotiated Dennis Tito's flight to the space station) to create a launch vehicle capable of three flights daily, Myasishchev Design Bureau has responded with the Cosmopolis XXI Aerospace System. The three-passenger module would piggyback on an airplane to the upper atmosphere before a rocket delivered
it to its 62-mile-high cruising altitude. First flights are planned for 2005, at a price of $98,000 per seat.