SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to substantially reduce the cost of reliable access to space. The company officially began operations in June 2002 and is located in the heart of the aerospace industry in Southern California, about a mile from LAX.
Our first launch vehicle, named Falcon, is a two stage, liquid oxygen and kerosene powered rocket capable of placing half a ton into low Earth orbit. We expect to have the Falcon ready for launch by late 2003, with the actual liftoff date subject to Air Force, NASA and FAA approval. Following this vehicle, SpaceX plans to develop a large three stage rocket using the first and second stages of the Falcon vehicle as its second and third stages. That vehicle would compete in the heavy lift payload class occupied by Arianespace, Boeing, Lockheed, China Aerospace and Russia’s Krunichev.
While drawing upon the ideas of many prior launch vehicle programs from Apollo to the X-34/Fastrac, SpaceX is privately developing the entire Falcon rocket from the ground up, including both engines, the turbo-pump, the cryogenic tank structure and the guidance system. A ground up internal development increases difficulty and the required investment, but no other path will achieve the needed improvement in the cost of access to space.
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