Launch Systems Rockets Priced to Move
Dot-com millionaire Elon Musk put his profits into orbit.
Built for Thrift
Late this month, if everything goes according to plan, Space Exploration Corporation, or SpaceX for short, will launch its privately funded two-stage rocket, Falcon I, into low-Earth orbit, carrying with it the U.S. Department of Defense’s TacSat-1 satellite. The ride costs just under $6 million, a price that undercuts the competition by up to two thirds. â€We want to be the Southwest Airlines of space launches,â€ says SpaceX CEO and PayPal founder Elon Musk. “They offer flights for a heck of a lot less, have a strong safety record, and are on time.”
Among SpaceX’s list of customers seeking a cheaper ride into space: Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace, who has plunked down his deposit to launch a prototype version of his inflatable orbital hotel on Falcon V, a six-engine Falcon I upgrade scheduled to blast off late next year. And Musk says that half a dozen potential customers, including NASA, are waiting to see one successful launch before committing.