Next up for SpaceX

Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a private rocket launch company that successfully put its first rocket into orbit this past weekend, is now on track to service a large government entity, NASA:

With a successful Falcon 1 launch under their belt, SpaceX has set its sights on hauling cargo for NASA with the larger Falcon 9 rocket, transporting crews to the International Space Station in its Dragon capsule, and landing on the Moon with a modified Falcon 1 rocket.

The Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to be shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida late this year to prep for its NASA cargo flights. Falcon 9 has nine Merlin rocket engines to Falcon 1’s one, and is capable of taking cargo, and eventually crew, to and from the International Space Station. The maiden voyage of the Falcon 9 is scheduled for the first quarter of 2009 from the larger launch pad SpaceX is currently refurbishing at the Cape. (Map of SpaceX’s Kwajalein and Cape launch sites are shown below.)

After Falcon 9’s first flight there are three commercial payloads and two NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation System demonstration flights scheduled for 2009. The first of these flights will simply fly cargo to orbit, do some maneuvering and then come home. The second cargo mission will demonstrate its ability to safely and accurately maneuver and execute close-proximity operations using the Falcon 9’s spent upper stage as a proxy for the International Space Station. The third demonstration flight, currently scheduled for 2010, will fly a full cargo delivery profile, including docking to the International Space Station.

If SpaceX meets all of these milestones they will receive their full $278 million award from NASA. To put that in perspective, NASA awarded a $3.9 billion cost-plus contract to Lockheed Martin to develop the pressurized Orion capsule that will carry the crew atop the Ares I rocket. NASA has already modified the contract to Lockheed to add in two additional abort tests and to push back the program two years. The modification alone cost them an additional $385 million, more than NASA will pay SpaceX for the Falcon 9 rocket and pressurized Dragon capsule should the flights prove successful. Quite a bargain.

Nobody knows for sure how significant SpaceX’s Falcon 1 launch was and how much it was needed.

But it’s all forward and upward from here, there’s no turning back.

The private space industry is born.

Next For SpaceX: Falcon 9, NASA, Humans, and the Moon?

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5 responses

  1. Hmm, this kid is really focused, like a multimillionaire before he was 30, and moving on to his own space projects, all so he can work on building some greenhouses on Mars. I’ve always been dubious about free enterprise in Amurika, but Musk has even been involved in the manufacture of the Tesla automobile, which is so far ahead of curve that Detroit might as well start making steamcars. I guess the reason he is still around is that he has moved beyond common ground…G:

  2. I don’t know why the Rockefellers and Roths suffer him to live.

    Maybe they don’t feel threatened because in their perception, he’s unable to change their paradigm?

    I hope he does!

  3. Greetings, fellow foilers… the gypsy has returned… albeit briefly.

    Just thought you might like to know that they found what’s left of Steve Fosset. Wonder what happened with him? Should I be waxing paranoid, here?

    Back Saturday… hopefully!

  4. Yo Highway…keep on truckin, and stock up for the mother of all depressions. Don’t buy gold though, as it will attract the bottom feeders, along with the elite, who will relieve the sheeple of all their shiney stuff.

    Here’s Steve’s plane, a small tail dragger. How in the world did his $1000 end up 1/4 mile from the wreckage? šŸ˜Ž

  5. Hi dad2059;

    Elon Musk is an amazing visionary enteprener. Nasa should be definately watching how efficiently and cost effectly SpaceX’s vehicles are being designed and launched. Perhaps NASA can learn from this good examples.

    Thanks;

    Jim

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