Private Rocket Unveiled In Washington

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If you're in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4, this might be worth a look. Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) will unveil its 70-foot Falcon rocket at a splashy ceremony with a reception to follow at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. The rocket will be hauled in on its mobile launcher. However, the launcher won't be put to use until early next year when the reusable booster is expected to take a Department of Defense communications satellite into orbit from SpaceX's complex at Vandenburg AFB in California. SpaceX claims the Falcon will give access to space at 25 percent of the current cost because it is purpose-built, rather than being based on a missile design. As such, most of the components are reusable and more reliable than the single-use design of other launch vehicles. The company, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, is planning a series of rockets aimed at ultimately reducing the cost and increasing the reliability of space access "by a factor of 10." The Falcon is a two-stage liquid-fueled rocket.