Feeds

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

So many rockets and ships, not enough launch pads

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.