SpaceX Falcon 1 lifts off successfully, first privately-funded spacecraft in orbit

For the privately-developed SpaceX rocket project, apparently the fourth time is the charm. After three dismal failures, the fourth launch attempt resulted in the two-stage Falcon 1 streaking into orbit last night after a flawless liftoff at 7:15pm EDT. Even though this orbital insertion occurs 45 years after the first time NASA did it, it's a first for a privately-funded commercial venture.

What's next? SpaceX plans to perfect the design of the vehicle, allowing for re-use of the first stage after a Pacific splashdown, and then launch 1,256-pound payloads atop the 68-foot rocket into low earth orbit. Next summer, the company plans to launch a bigger design called Falcon 9, destined for cargo hauling to the International Space Station. Someday, the company may even compete with Richard Branson and take tourists into space.

Hit Continue to see a video of the launch from the U.S. Army's Ronald Reagan Ballistic Defense Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the south Pacific Ocean.

Space.com, via PointNiner