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Photos: SpaceX rocket flames out

A possible fuel leak snuffed some of the excitement out of the launch. But backer and Internet billionaire Elon Musk isn't finished.

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1 of 2 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Falcon 1 launch

The first attempt by privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX, to launch a low-cost rocket ended quickly. Saturday's flight of the 70-foot, two-stage Falcon 1 rocket from a U.S. base on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean's Marshall Islands lasted only about a minute after its engines were shut down 29 seconds into the flight.

PayPal co-founder and billionaire Elon Musk, who helped develop and finance the rocket, said in a statement on the SpaceX site that "all vehicle systems, including the main engine, thrust vector control, structures, avionics, software, guidance algorithm, etc. were picture perfect."

The Falcon 1 lifted off the ground, but note the flames at bottom of the rocket.

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2 of 2 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

fuel leak

Musk theorized that a fuel leak "caused a fire around the top of the main engine that cut into the first stage helium pneumatic system."

The next step for the private space group is to assist with an investigation by the federal government. All future launches are currently on hold but Musk hopes the next rocket will take off in about six months.

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