P.M. BRIEFING : 1st Commercial Rocket Goes Aloft

From Times wire services

The era of private space travel was launched today when the nation’s first licensed commercial rocket, carrying six experiments, soared into the sky for a brief suborbital flight and its payload parachuted back to Earth.

Starfire 1, owned by Space Services Inc. of America, a small Houston company run by developer David Hannah Jr. and Mercury 7 astronaut Deke Slayton, blasted off into clear blue skies at 8:40 a.m. from White Sands Missile Range.

The flight was paid for by the Consortium for Materials Development in Space at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Ala. The cost was $1.1 million.