First-ever SpaceX launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-4 (Sept. 29, 2013)
Commercial Space Travel Giant Plans More Missions from SoCal Air Force Base
It was one small step for commercial space travel, but it was a giant leap for the star-shooting company that shuttles private satellites into orbit and is developing reusable rockets to put people on Mars in 10-20 years.
Sunday morning at 9 a.m. under a perfectly clear sky, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation — better known as SpaceX — launched its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in a “demonstration mission” that released a small Canadian research satellite above Earth. Because the launch was technically a test of the new rocket and had a 50 percent chance of failing, the client — MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) — got a big discount at million; SpaceX normally charges $56.5 million for such services.
Crowds watch the first-ever SpaceX launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-4 (Sept. 29, 2013)
The mission was SpaceX's first from the Southern California base — five Falcon 9s have taken off from its Cape Canaveral launchpad — and the Hawthorne-based company's manifest says it has 12 more Vandenberg launches planned for the next four years. SpaceX broke ground on the Vandenberg launchpad in July 2011 with a visit from Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom who said the venture would help reverse the downward trajectory of U.S. space travel. Since then, the company has added 50 missions to its schedule, representing close to $5 billion in contracts, and signed a $1.6 billion deal with NASA to fly cargo to and from the International Space Station. Now in its 11th year, SpaceX has around 3, 000 employees, a few dozen of whom are stationed at Vandenberg
You might also like: