Thu, Jun 07, 2012
Successful ISS Mission May Open Doors Previously Shut Tight
The successful flight of a Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon capsule to the International Space Station may open the door for the launch of military satellites by SpaceX ... a goal said to be more elusive than flying cargo for NASA.
Three successful flights are one of the criteria used by the Pentagon in evaluating potential launch services for its hardware. Currently, United Launch Alliance is the only private company that launches military satellites into space.
But Reuters reports that Air Force spokeswoman Tracy Bunko said in an e-mail that there are multiple paths to certification by the Pentagon for military launch contracts. While new spacecraft can be considered, "it ... depends on the risk assessment of the mission," wrote Bunko.
SpaceX is not likely to intrude on ULA's military launch business in the near term, but NOAA and the U.S. Air Force did put a contract for the launch of a new solar observatory out for bids. The Air Force is also accepting proposals for the launch of its "Space Test Payload-2"
SpaceX already has a contract for up to 12 cargo flights to ISS for NASA, as well as 28 other launches for a variety of customers including foreign governments. It also hopes to be able to carry humans to ISS in the not-too-distant future.
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