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First Launch of Privately-Built Rocket Fails


The first launch of a privately operated rocket ended in failure Friday over the Pacific Ocean shortly after liftoff.

Space enthusiasts watched the launch through a live Internet telecast, but moments later the picture went dead, and the company later said it lost the space vehicle. A spokeswoman said it is not clear yet what went wrong.

The Falcon One rocket was designed and built by California-based Space Exploration Technologies, also known as Space X. It is a partially reusable rocket intended to provide cheap and reliable access to space.

The Falcon One blasted off from Omelek Island on Kwajalein Atoll. It was carrying a satellite designed by the U.S. Air Force Academy to study phenomena in space that interfere with communications satellites.

Space X was founded by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, co-founder of the popular electronic payment system PayPal. The company says it has $200 million worth of contracts to launch small satellites through 2010.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.