SpaceX competing for U.S. launches

Oct. 17, 2011 at 10:57 AM
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HAWTHORNE, Calif., Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Space Exploration Technologies plans to compete for U.S. Department of Defense space launches, the company announced.

The announcement follows the U.S. Air Force issuing a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office and NASA to allow new companies to compete to provide launch services.

The MOU will be followed by detailed guidance for prospective new entrants into space launch programs.

"SpaceX welcomes the opportunity to compete for Air Force launches," Adam Harris, SpaceX vice president of government affairs. "We are reviewing the MOU and we expect to have a far better sense of our task after the detailed requirements are released in the coming weeks."

The Air Force is the largest launch customer in the world but is currently served by a monopoly provider whose prices have consistently risen. Equitable criteria for new entrants, coupled with opportunities for competition, would save the U.S. taxpayer billions of dollars, SpaceX said.

"Fair and open competition for commercial launch providers is an essential element of protecting taxpayer dollars," said Elon Musk, SpaceX chief executive officer. "Our American-made Falcon vehicles can deliver assured, responsive access to space that will meet warfighter needs while reducing costs for our military customers."

SpaceX, which has headquarters in California, is a developer of space launch vehicles.

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