Tue, Nov 25, 2003
Impending Launch of Privately Funded, Re-Useable, Orbital
Space Exploration Technologies
Corporation (SpaceX) has announced that its Falcon orbital launch
vehicle will be officially unveiled in Washington, DC on Thursday,
December 4, 2003.
SpaceX will bring the entire seven-story high rocket and its
mobile launch system to the nation's capital as part of the
celebrations marking the hundred-year anniversary of manned flight.
The company will host an unveiling ceremony and press conference,
followed by a reception at the Smithsonian's National Air &
With the grounding of the Space Shuttle creating a backlog in
hitchhiker satellite deliveries, there is a great need for new
means of access to space. Moreover, the Falcon rocket is notable
- The first rocket with substantial reusability developed since
the Space Shuttle first flew more than two decades ago. Once the
Shuttle retires, the Falcon will become the world's only reusable
- A major breakthrough in the cost of access to space, with a
price per flight to orbit over four times lower than the nearest
- Designed from a "clean sheet" for reliable space
transportation. Most existing launch vehicles, which were derived
from weapons systems, have comparatively lower reliability.
SpaceX expects to launch the Falcon in early 2004 from the
SpaceX launch complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Scheduled payload will be a Department of Defense tactical
communications & observation satellite called TacSat-1.
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is developing a family
of launch vehicles intended to ultimately reduce the cost and
increase the reliability of access to space by a factor of ten.
Falcon, a two stage, liquid-fueled orbital launch vehicle, is the
company's first product. The entire vehicle, including main and
upper stage engines, primary structure, avionics and guidance
control, is being developed internally at SpaceX.
Headquartered in El Segundo, California, CEO Elon Musk founded
SpaceX in June 2002. SpaceX is the third company Mr. Musk has
founded. Previously he co-founded and was the largest shareholder
of PayPal, the world's leading electronic payment system, which
sold to online auction giant eBay(tm) for $1.5 billion in 2002.
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