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Space

SpaceX Launch Achieves Geostationary Transfer Orbit 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the tip-of-the-hat dept.
SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket this afternoon in a bid to deliver a large commercial satellite into geostationary orbit. The flight was successful: "Approximately 185 seconds into flight, Falcon 9’s second stage’s single Merlin vacuum engine ignited to begin a five minute, 20 second burn that delivered the SES-8 satellite into its parking orbit. Eighteen minutes after injection into the parking orbit, the second stage engine relit for just over one minute to carry the SES-8 satellite to its final geostationary transfer orbit. The restart of the Falcon 9 second stage is a requirement for all geostationary transfer missions." This is a significant milestone for SpaceX, and it fulfills another of the three objectives set forth by the U.S. Air Force to certify SpaceX flights for National Security Space missions.
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SpaceX Launch Achieves Geostationary Transfer Orbit

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  • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning.netzero@net> on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @10:25PM (#45591263) Homepage Journal

    What debt? The time when it was extremely critical for SpaceX to make money was during the Falcon 1 flights, where Elon Musk openly admitted that he was about two weeks away from throwing in the towel and declaring chapter 13 bankruptcy. Had Falcon 1 Flight 4 not been able to get into orbit, SpaceX would have been toast as a company.

    At this point, SpaceX is clearing its manifest, collecting so many customers that its manifest is continuing to grow with an ever longer back log of waiting time for new customers, and at this point plans to launch 15 rockets (according to their manifest) next year. Admittedly SpaceX claims that is only 15 rockets that will be delivered to the launch pads before January 2015, but that is incredibly ambitious. That is manufacturing over 150 new Merlin engines, or about 3-4 engines per week that need to be completed. In other words, a very real assembly line and mass production scales of efficiency.

    More importantly, assuming that SpaceX actually pulls this off, they will have more than a couple billion dollars of revenue next year and a healthy hunk of that will be profit. Far be it that SpaceX is going to be swimming in debt, I think they are more likely going to struggle in terms of finding legitimate ways to reinvest that money. Elon Musk also seems to be very frugal and wise with how that money is being spent too. At this point, the SpaceX budget is going to be likely larger than NASA's robotic exploration program.... the whole thing.

    If for some reason SpaceX can't get the reusable Falcon 9 to work and there becomes a huge downturn in the global satellite launcher market, I would agree that the potential exists for SpaceX to go down in flames. SpaceX is gambling on the idea where substantially cheaper launch prices (they are aiming for less than $1000/kg to LEO) will increase the market demand for orbital launches and that this same rate of launching at least one rocket every month is going to continue indefinitely. The orbital launch market has seen crashes before, and OSC was one company in particular who was ramping up production precisely when that market crash happened.

    Regardless, I fail to see where SpaceX is going to crash from debt alone. They are past the critical cash crunch period that new start-up companies all go through and there are numerous people (especially after today's launch) that would be willing to chip in some additional capital if it was needed.

  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:44AM (#45592401)

    Near half? Closer to one tenth. A Falcon 9 costs $56.5 million. The last ULA launch cost $465 million. I don't know that the price difference is all that much of an accomplishment though. How hard is it to beat a bloated cost-plus military-industrial complex dinosaur that exists mainly as welfare for mediocre engineers? The short fabrication and assembly times, the incredibly short integration time, the miniscule size of the launch crew, all while conducting rocket surgery—now those are accomplishments worth extolling.

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