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A US space company founded by an Internet multi-millionaire has become the first private venture to successfully blast a rocket into Earth's orbit.
Falcon 1, a liquid fuel rocket built by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, took off from a remote island in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday and entered orbit carrying a dummy payload, SpaceX said.
"This is a great day for SpaceX and the culmination of an enormous amount of work by a great team," said Elon Musk, the chief executive of SpaceX who made a fortune as the founder of PayPal, an online payment system.
"With this key milestone, Falcon 1 becomes the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to orbit the Earth," SpaceX added in a statement from its Hawthorne, California, headquarters.
The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, commonly referred to as the Reagan Test Site, is a missile test range in the Pacific Ocean. It covers about 750,000 square miles and includes rocket launch sites at the Kwajalein Atoll (on multiple islands), Wake Island, and Aur Atoll. It primarily functions as a test facility for U.S. missile defense and space research programs. The Reagan Test Site is under the command of the US Army Kwajalein Atoll, or USAKA.
The mission control center, along with most of the personnel and infrastructure, is located at the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Eleven of the atoll's islands are operated by the U.S. military under a long term lease with the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Equipment installed at the test site includes various tracking radars, stationary and mobile telemetry, optical recording equipment and a secure fiberoptic data network via undersea cables. The Reagan Test Site also serves as a tracking station for manned space flight and NASA research projects.
Launch activities at the test site include ballistic missile tests, ABM interception tests, meteorological sounding rockets and a commercial spaceport for SpaceX at Omelek Island.