Hawthorne, CA, September 8, 2009 - Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Astrium announce a contract for a SpaceX Falcon 1e to launch an Earth observation satellite designed by Astrium or its recently acquired subsidiary Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL).
The Falcon 1e is an 'enhanced' version of SpaceX's successful Falcon 1 launch vehicle. Designed from the ground up by SpaceX, the Falcon 1e has upgraded propulsion, structures and avionics systems in order to further improve reliability and bring to market increased mass-to-orbit capability to better serve the needs of the small satellite community.
Astrium and SSTL provide a range of innovative, cutting edge Earth Observation satellite products and through this agreement will be able to offer customers a turnkey solution, with in-orbit delivery of a low Earth orbit satellite system.
The partnership between SpaceX and Astrium paves the way for potential future cooperation.
"SpaceX's Falcon 1e launch vehicle was designed to provide the highest level of reliability as well as the lowest dedicated mission price of any orbital launch system," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "SpaceX is pleased to be the launch services provider for this mission."
"This Falcon 1e contract allows Astrium to provide a competitive solution for in-orbit delivery of an Earth observation satellite in low Earth orbit," said Evert Dudok CEO of Astrium Satellites. "This deal will ultimately benefit customers seeking innovative and low-cost solutions for valuable Earth observation programs".
SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation, ultimately by a factor of ten. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 vehicles, SpaceX offers highly reliable/cost-efficient launch capabilities for spacecraft insertion into any orbital altitude and inclination. Starting in 2010, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will provide Earth-to-LEO transport of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, including resupply to the International Space Station (ISS).
Founded in 2002, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The SpaceX team now numbers over 800, with corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, California. For more information, please visit the company's web site at www.spacex.com