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SpaceX Private Rocket Shifts to Island Launch

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:30 pm
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LOGAN, Utah—Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of El Segundo, California is putting in place private rocket facilities at a Kwajalein Atoll launch area in the western Pacific Ocean.

Yet the going has been tough for the private start-up, bankrolled by Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer of SpaceX.

First, the group’s hoped for premier takeoff of the Falcon 1 booster at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was stymied by an on-going delay of a Titan 4 rocket launch carrying a classified payload. That booster—the last to fly from Vandenberg—remains ground-bound and won’t be airborne until this October, if then.

The Falcon 1 at Vandenberg was being readied to loft TacSat-1, a satellite built and integrated by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory for the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation.

But a far more vexing issue now faces SpaceX.

After spending an estimated $7 million on its Vandenberg Air Force Base facilities, the private rocket company is being told to get out of its Complex 3 West launch site.

“It is just, I think, a travesty,” Musk told SPACE.com in an interview here at the 19th Annual Conference on Small Satellites, sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Utah State University.

Fundamentally unfair
The squeeze play stems from Lockheed Martin moving back to use a Complex 3 East site at Vandenberg for Atlas 5 launches.

“It’s like you build your house…somebody else builds a house next to you and tells you to get out of your house. Like, what the hell…after we’ve made that big investment and everything. We’re going to fight that issue because it is just fundamentally unfair,” Musk said.

Click here to read more at Space.com

In the next few weeks, Musk said, plans beyond Falcon 5 are to be announced, “and some of them are going to be some pretty significant announcements…it’s going to make a big splash.”

Musk said the reason he founded SpaceX was to help humanity become a spacefaring civilization. While he would be happy to see his launch services used for exploration of the Moon, he said more distant Mars is the place to build and sustain another civilization…

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