Rob Coppinger of Flightglobal and Hyperbola has a couple of SpaceX updates. CEO Elon Musk recently visited London, where he spoke before the United Kingdom’s Royal Aeronautical Society.
Musk says that his company, SpaceX, should complete development work on its first Dragon test vehicle by the end of the year. Dragon, which is designed to carry cargo and crew to the International Space Station, will be flight tested next year. The work is being done under NASA’s COTS program.
Coppinger also reports that Musk has set a price tag on the cost of sending a Dragon spacecraft on a circumlunar flight: $80 million.
This strikes me as a fairly low figure. It’s a bold claim coming from a company that has yet to fly anything successfully in space. SpaceX’s small Falcon 1 rocket has failed in two launches; a third attempt is set for later this summer. The larger Falcon 9 booster, which would be required for a lunar mission, has not yet flown. There also would be significant modifications required for the Dragon spacecraft, which is designed for orbital use.
Coppinger recorded Musk’s 10-minute address to the Royal Aeronautical Society and the hour-long Q&A that followed. You can access audio recordings here.