Granted 5-Year License To Launch Rockets
The USAF announced Thursday that
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has been granted a
five-year license to launch rockets from Cape Canaveral Air Force
SpaceX, a company whose philosophy is that simplicity, low-cost,
and reliability can go hand in hand, will now have launch
facilities on both coasts, reports Reuters. That is a
requirement to vie for the US government's largest launch
contracts, while an added benefit to clients, with the ability to
offer a wider range of launch location options.
SpaceX currently has launch facilities at Vandenberg Air Force
Base in CA, and Omelek Island in the central Pacific's Kwajalein
Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands.
The new Florida launch site will help the company compete with
Orbital Sciences, Dulles, VA. Founded in 1982, Orbital Science
began with the goal of making space technology more affordable,
accessible, and useful to millions of people on Earth. Orbital
Sciences has since grown to become the world's leading developer
and manufacturer of smaller, more affordable space and rocket
Additional, larger rocket competition may come SpaceX's way with
Europe's Arianespace and the United Launch Alliance, a joint
venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
Gen. Kevin Chilton, commander of Air Force Space Command, hailed
the pact with SpaceX, the brainchild of Elon Musk, co-founder of
PayPal, a Web-based electronic payments system that was sold to
eBay for $1.5 billion.
"These types of agreements encourage entrepreneurial space
achievement which can benefit both the (Department of Defense) and
commercial space industries," Chilton said in a statement.
Under the initial license, the government retains the right to
let others share in the use of Space Launch Complex 40, a
deactivated Titan IV launch pad.
SpaceX, based in El Segundo, CA, must pay for all improvements,
construction, and maintenance associated with its operations
Said Marco Caceres of the Teal Group aerospace consultancy in
Fairfax, VA, the Cape Canaveral launch deal is "kind of like (the
Air Force) saying 'we believe in you and we want you to be part of
SpaceX was one of two winners in August of a combined $500
million NASA cargo contract aimed at cutting the cost of reliable
Musk, who has said he is dedicated to making earthlings a
spacefaring civilization, is workig towards shipping things into
space for a third or less of the going rate.