Feeds

Elon Musk's SpaceX seeks 'private sector Cape Canaveral'

So many rockets and ships, not enough launch pads

The next step in data security

Private rocket company SpaceX is looking around for new launch sites to take care of all the commercial customer demand it's getting.

Space Exploration Technologies already has a launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida and is currently developing one at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, but it says it needs more.

"Our growing launch manifest has led us to look for additional sites. We're considering several states and territories," CEO Elon Musk said in a canned statement.

"I envision this site functioning like a commercial Cape Canaveral," he added.

The private sector upstart said it had received 14 new orders for its Falcon 9 rocket in the last year alone and has sold 40 missions for the bird booster, "over half of which are for commercial customers".

The news is perhaps a bit of a "So, there!" to NASA, which has a less than comfortable partnership with the rocketing start-up to replace some of the work of the shutdown Space Shuttle programme.

SpaceX is making the agency, and traditional buddies Lockheed and Boeing, look bad by developing rockets that are way cheaper because they use kerosene instead of hydrogen fuel and because the company employs fewer people.

Last week, reports suggested that the first flight of Dragon, the cargoship intended to sit on a Falcon 9 rocket and carry supplies to the International Space Station, had been delayed and NASA's funding for contracted work like that mission would be cut back.

Dragon has already had a successful test flight into orbit and back again, and was due to dock with the ISS sometime before the end of this year. Now, the mission has been postponed into next year because, according to the Wall Street Journal, the firm's boffins need to modify control software in the Dragon capsule.

The WSJ also said that NASA's funding for outsourced space flights would be cut, meaning for the most part the money it would have given to SpaceX.

While it would seem to most people that it makes sense to spend lots of money with SpaceX and get a lot more bang for your buck, the fact that there are far fewer employees at the private sector firm than at NASA, Lockheed and Boeing combo is not a good thing in the current political climate. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.