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Credit where it is due: Elon Musk’s SpaceX may dominate across all launch fronts

30 May 2012, 09:22 UTC
Credit where it is due:  Elon Musk’s SpaceX may dominate across all launch fronts
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Falcon 9 Heavy will have 27 rocket engines firing at lift off. Courtesy: SpaceX
Flushed with success after its Falcon 9/Dragon launch to the International Space Station, the Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) firm which was set up by former internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, has announced that it now has a commercial launch contract with Intelsat to launch commercial communications satellites via its Falcon 9 Heavy rocket.
This announcement is an indication that SpaceX is now threatening the dominance of Arianespace and ILS in the commercial launch arena. If a Falcon 9 Heavy can carry two or more large GEO communications satellites for half the launch price of an Ariane 5 or Proton M booking, then this could spell the end of their commercial operations as going concerns.
It is not only on the commercial front that SpaceX may dominate. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Heavy launch service promises to be less than half the cost of using equivalent Atlas and Delta rockets. So even the cosy launch provider-governmental relationships that previously benefited the likes of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Pratt and Whitney/Rocketdyne could now be threatened. The US Government Accountability Office has more or less suggested that the US Air ...

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