World Bulletin / News Desk
NASA hired Space Exploration Technologies to launch an ocean monitoring satellite, a key win for the start-up rocket company that also wants to break into the U.S. military's launch business, NASA officials said on Thursday.
The $82 million contract covers launch, payload processing and other services for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's ocean-measuring Jason-3 satellite, which is slated to fly in December 2014.
Launch would take place from SpaceX's new complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
NASA, which handles procurements for NOAA, also awarded three launch contracts, worth $412 million for Delta 2 rockets built by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.
One of the satellites earmarked for a Delta 2 flight is the replacement for a carbon dioxide tracking satellite lost in February 2009 after a failed launch on an Orbital Sciences Corp Taurus rocket.
The launches, slated for July 2014, October 2014 and November 2016, also will take place at Vandenberg.
SpaceX, which is owned and operated by internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, already holds NASA contracts worth $1.6 billion to fly cargo to the International Space Station, a $100 billion laboratory that orbits about 240 miles (386 kilometres) above Earth.
The company in May successfully flew a demonstration mission to the station, a key milestone in its efforts to win U.S. military launch contracts as well.
ULA currently has a monopoly on U.S. military launch business. But in an attempt to certify more launchers, the Air Force is expected to award a non-ULA launch services contract this year for the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a former NASA Earth-monitoring satellite being repurposed by NOAA into a solar observatory. A request for bids under the Air Force's Orbital/Suborbital Program (OSP-3) was released May 11.
The criteria for new launchers was jointly developed by the Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA.
The new NASA contract is the first evidence that Falcon 9 meets the new launcher criteria.
SpaceX will have plenty of chances to build Falcon's flight history. The rocket's launch manifest includes more than 40 flights, including 12 station cargo flights and the Jason-3 ocean survey satellite for NASA.
Vast quantities of rare gas hint at Earth’s past, could power planet’s future
Global temperatures at record highs; Arctic sea ice levels at record lows
23-year-old researcher to create computer models of brain structures in world's largest particle physics laboratory
New mobile game already used by 5 percent of Android users in US
The $180m radio telescope with size of 30 football fields is expected to be operational by September, state media says.
The 41st Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Scientific Assembly will take place between July 30 and August 7 at the Istanbul Congress Center
India launches largest successful satellite mission as it continues focus on space reseach
Court-ordered payout comes on same day company pulls fake refugee rescue app
Driverless minibus called Olli, capable of carrying up to 12 people, released by IBM and Local Motors
Popular social media network Twitter has broken, with the network's website and mobile apps inaccessible for users worldwide
In April, Germany officially announced a new incentive and investment program to accelerate the adoption of electric cars in the country.
Findings based on laser technology challenge previous theories on urban, water systems around temple complexes
With clean energy, ‘you can reconcile ecology and economy’, says Solar Impulse navigator
A blind Muslim Microsoft engineer has unveiled an AI-powered project that helps him 'see' the world