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Fourth Time a Charm for Company’s Space Launch

October 2, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An Internet entrepreneur’s latest effort to make space launch more affordable paid off Sunday when his commercial rocket, carrying a dummy payload, was lofted into orbit from the South Pacific.

It was the fourth attempt by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to launch its two-stage Falcon 1 rocket into orbit.

“Fourth time’s a charm,” said Elon Musk, the multimillionaire who started up SpaceX after making his fortune as the co-founder of PayPal Inc., the electronic payment system.

The rocket carried a 364-pound dummy payload designed and built by SpaceX for the launch.

Last month, SpaceX lost three government satellites and human ashes including the remains of astronaut Gordon Cooper and “Star Trek” actor James Doohan after its third rocket was lost en route to space. The company blamed a timing error for the failure that caused the rocket’s first stage to bump into the second stage after separation.

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