Aviation Week reports that "SpaceX is ramping up plans to become the world’s largest producer of rocket engines in less than five years, manufacturing more units per year than any other single country."
“We have built about 60 engines so far this year, and will build another 40 by year-end,” says [SpaceX CEO Gwynne] Shotwell. Speaking at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Joint Propulsion Conference here, Shotwell explains that the eventual “plan is to build up to 400 engines per year, that’s our target.” The expansion is built on booked revenues of $3 billion through 2017, part of which was earned by orders for 14 new Falcon 9 launches placed “within the last year,” she says. SpaceX is also “negotiating three more right now,” she adds. The launch manifest lists 40 sold flights, including 33 Falcon 9s, plus five options.
As I reported yesterday, NASA plans for SpaceX to make its first cargo delivery to the International Space Station in February 2012. The article quotes SpaceX founder Elon Musk as saying their next goal is to win away military missions from United Launch Alliance.
SpaceX’s focus will shift to convincing the U.S. Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office that the Falcon 9 can provide a competitive alternative to United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V and Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles. “That’s our next big priority after ISS,” says Musk, who notes that the company recently began construction of its Falcon Heavy launch site at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. The first Falcon Heavy flight is targeted for 2013.
The article concludes by noting that SpaceX intends to announce development of a “super-efficient, staged-combustion engine” sometime in the next year or two.