Monday, June 14, 2010
SpaceX Steps Up to the Plate
An artist's conception of the Dragon spacecraft with deployed solar panels.
The Brevard County Manatees hosted the 2010 Florida State League All-Star Game, and SpaceX was a major co-sponsor with MetroPCS.
I covered the All-Star weekend for my other web site, SpaceCoastBaseball.com. At the Friday night banquet, guests were handed gift bags that featured SpaceX and MetroPCS logos. The players' jerseys during the Saturday night game had SpaceX logos sewn on the left sleeve, and MetroPCS logos on the right.
Space Coast Stadium now has two SpaceX ad banners, each beneath the foul poles. The poles have banners honoring Columbia and Challenger, the two orbiters lost in the line of duty. The SpaceX ads are directly beneath those banners. The symbolism of their chosen location is not lost upon this writer. I'm told that SpaceX came aboard as a major Manatees sponsor in the last month, suggesting that SpaceX definitely wants to establish itself as a significant and permanent part of the Space Coast community.
The June 13 edition of Florida Today featured a lengthy article about SpaceX and founder Elon Musk. He told columnist John Kelly that his eye is on the ultimate prize, which is using the SpaceX Dragon 9 capsule to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station.
"Both Falcon 9 and Dragon have already been designed to meet NASA's published human rating standards for astronaut transport, allowing for a rapid transition to astronauts within three years of receiving a contract to do so," the company said in a statement last week. "The critical path item is development and testing of the launch escape system, which would be a significant improvement in safety over the Space Shuttle, which does not possess an escape system."
The article notes that "Orbital Sciences, United Launch Alliance, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and others will all be competitors, likely partnered with one another or NASA's own government team."
Florida Today reported June 14 on its web site that SpaceX has signed a contract with Taiwan to launch an Earth observation satellite in 2013 from the company's Omelek Island launch site in the Pacific Ocean.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company now has more than 40 flights on its manifest and "is positioned to deliver launch services across the increasingly varied needs of our commercial and government customers."