NASA to Allow SpaceX to Combine Flights to ISS

Illustration of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Aviation Week
reports that NASA had preliminarily agreed to let SpaceX combine two Dragon test flights to the International Space Station:

With the STS-135 space shuttle supply mission to the International Space Station drawing to a close, agency officials are honing plans for a late November launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon on the first U.S. commercial cargo delivery mission to the orbiting science laboratory, NASA ISS program manager Mike Suffredini says.

Agency and company officials reached agreement on planning dates of Nov. 30 for the launch and Dec. 7 for the rendezvous and berthing of the Dragon cargo spacecraft with the station during a July 15 meeting.


SpaceX Breaks Ground on Vandenberg Launch Complex

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.—SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) today took another major step toward the first launch of the Falcon Heavy. This will be the world’s most powerful rocket, with more than twice the payload-to-orbit capacity of the space shuttle, but at only one third the cost of the Boeing/Lockheed Delta IV Heavy. The Falcon Heavy will be the first ever rocket to break the $1,000-per-pound-to-orbit barrier, less than a tenth as much as the Shuttle.

SpaceX CEO and chief rocket designer Elon Musk was joined by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, 30th Space Wing Commander Colonel Richard W. Boltz and Lompoc Mayor John Linn to break ground on a new launch site for the Falcon Heavy—Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Falcon Heavy, along with SpaceX’s medium-lift Falcon 9, offers the next generation of launch capability to the US Air Force, NASA, and commercial satellite companies at revolutionary costs. With a launch site at Vandenberg and the world’s largest rocket, SpaceX will be ready to compete for the full range of US government business, provided competition is allowed. Currently, United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed, has a sole-source monopoly contract for Defense Department business.


SpaceX Names Former Orbital Sciences Official as Senior VP

Washington – Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announced that former Orbital Sciences executive and industry leader Mark Bitterman is joining the company’s Washington office as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs. Bitterman  joins SpaceX after serving in a similar role at Orbital for 19 years.

“Mark brings a wealth of experience to SpaceX that will help us better meet the needs of our customers,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president. “Mark’s leadership will ensure critical policymakers remain knowledgeable on the ways SpaceX can lower the cost and improve the reliability of accessing space, while providing the best value for the taxpayer.” (more…)

SpaceX to Break Ground on Falcon Heavy Launch Pad on Wednesday

SpaceX Groundbreaking at Vandenberg Air Force Base Wednesday


In April 2011, SpaceX announced its plans to design, build and launch the Falcon Heavy – the world’s largest launch vehicle since the Saturn V moon rocket. The Falcon Heavy should arrive at Vandenberg by the end of 2012 and launch soon thereafter.

On Wednesday, July 13th, 2011, Hawthorne-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s newest launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Falcon Heavy will have the ability to carry payloads weighing over 53 metric tons to orbit, offering more than twice the performance of other commercial providers at one-third of the cost. SpaceX save the Department of Defense at least one billion dollars annually in space launch services with such a rocket, while providing an independent family of vehicles to provide assured access to space.


Elon Musk, SpaceX Founder, CEO & Chief Technology Officer
Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California
Colonel Richard W. Boltz, Commander, 30th Space Wing and Western Range, Air Force Space Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base
Mayor John Linn, Lompoc


Vandenberg Air Force Base (Space Launch Complex 4-East)


Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 1:00 PM

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft on Display in Florida

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL—On December 8, 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to launch, fly, land and recover a spacecraft from low Earth orbit. Now through July 10, 2011, that spacecraft, the SpaceX Dragon, will make its first public appearance in Florida since its historic inaugural flight.

SpaceX, in coordination with the Air Force Space and Missile History Center, will host a public viewing of the Dragon capsule through July 10 on the grounds of the History Center, located just outside the South Gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).

Awesome Video: Falcon 9 Engine Firing

Video Caption: A 60-second long test firing of the Falcon 9 Flight 3 second stage, conducted at the SpaceX Test Facility in McGregor. Texas. The Merlin Vacuum second stage engine generates 92,500 lb of force in vacuum, and operates with a vacuum specific impulse of 342 seconds — the highest efficiency ever for an American hydrocarbon rocket engine. In flight the engine ignites about 3 minutes after launch, delivering the Dragon spacecraft to orbit about 6 minutes later.

SpaceX Names Former Broadcom Executive as CFO

SpaceX PR – Hawthorne, CA – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has named Bret Johnsen as Chief Financial Officer, bringing 20 years of financial leadership experience in high-profile, publicly traded companies to SpaceX as it undergoes rapid growth on the back of tremendous technological and market success.

Johnsen’s appointment follows the company’s fourth straight year of profitability (2007-2010).  The total value of SpaceX NASA and commercial contracts recently topped $3 billion for over 40 launches. The company has also grown to more than 1,300 employees.

SpaceX Named One of 50 Top Innovative Companies

SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket

SPACEX/HAWTHORNE, CA – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (known as SpaceX) has been named one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world by MIT’s Technology Review.

“Private companies will dominate near-Earth space travel. And SpaceX, with its manufacturing advances for making rocket engines and astronaut capsules, is leading the way,” said Jason Pontin, Technology Review Editor in Chief and Publisher.


Space Foundation to Give Awards to SpaceX, Télécoms Sans Frontières

Artist conception of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft in orbit


The Space Foundation has chosen two companies to receive 2011 Space Achievement Awards, in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments in space.

SpaceX is being lauded for becoming the first commercial company to re-enter a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit, and Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) is being recognized for its unique use of space to aid communications and save lives during natural disasters and emergencies.


SpaceX to Show Off Dragon Capsule at Tesla Event in D.C.

Dragon being recovered in the Pacific. (Credit: SpaceX)


WASHINGTON – Tomorrow, Thursday, February 10th 2011, SpaceX is teaming up with electric car maker Tesla Motors to showcase their contributions to American innovation.

Media are invited to an exclusive SpaceX-Tesla Open House at the new Tesla Showroom in Washington, DC.

On display will be the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, which became the first commercial spacecraft to successfully return from orbit on December 8th, 2010.  Ken Bowersox, SpaceX Vice President of Astronaut Safety and Mission Assurance and former NASA Shuttle and ISS Expedition Commander, will be available for interviews by request.


Astrobotic Signs Contract for Falcon 9 Launch to Moon


Astrobotic Technology Inc. today announced it has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch Astrobotic’s robotic payload to the Moon on a Falcon 9.   The expedition will search for water and deliver payloads, with the robot narrating its adventure while sending 3D video.  The mission could launch as soon as December 2013.