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Commercial Payloads for Commercial Pay

November 25, 2013

SpaceX is planning to launch a satellite today from Cape Caneveral, becoming the first commercial launch in the US is four years.  This also means that SpaceX will become the third of three competitors that are delivering commercial payload delivery to space.

SES hopes SpaceX brings the launches back to Cape Canaveral, Fla., beginning Monday with the liftoff of a Falcon 9 rocket with the SES 8 broadcasting satellite.

Before knowing the outcome of Monday’s launch, SES has already inked deals for three more missions with SpaceX, including one option for a launch on the company’s Falcon Heavy mega-rocket.

Once at the top of the world’s handful of launch service companies, U.S. rockets have been hamstrung by rising costs but have stayed busy with a manifest of missions for the U.S. military, NASA and the National Reconnaissance Office, the federal government’s spy satellite agency.

We have in the US some of the best facilities for launching and recovering rockets, and yet we’ve been out of the equation for anything commercial for what seems like forever.  SpaceX believes it can get payloads into orbit for a little over $50M, which is about half of the lowest competitor.  I think it’s a boon that costs are driving down, though we’ll have to see how the reliability of the system supports the cost structure.

I’m excited to see space delivery go commercial.  I do wonder how well some of the debris avoidance and other issues in space will become exacerbated by multiple competitors trying to cut costs.  Still, though.  This is great for our ability to utilize the “real-estate” available to us.

Updated: Scrubbed due to technical problems.  They’re aiming for Thanksgiving.

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