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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

SpaceX

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of access to space ultimately by a factor of ten. The company officially began operations in June 2002 and is located in the heart of the aerospace industry in Southern California.

Our first two launch vehicle models, named Falcon I and Falcon V, are mostly reusable rockets capable of placing approximately 650 kg or 4,200 kg, respectively, into low Earth orbit. Falcon V is also capable of taking spacecraft to geosynchronous transfer orbit and escape velocity, and is unique in being the only American rocket with true engine out reliability.

First launch of Falcon I, carrying a US Defense Department communications satellite, is scheduled for mid 2004 from the SpaceX complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The maiden flight of Falcon V is scheduled for late 2005, carrying a commercial satellite. SpaceX is capable of launching from Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg, Alaska, Virginia and the Marshall Islands, allowing convenient launch to any inclination.

Falcon I, a light class launch vehicle, is priced at $5.9 million and Falcon V, a medium lift launch vehicle, is priced at $12 million. Whereas Falcon I is the world’s lowest cost per flight to orbit of a production rocket, Falcon V will be the lowest cost per pound/kilogram to orbit, despite providing what we consider to be breakthrough improvements in reliability.

Although drawing upon a rich history of prior launch vehicle and engine programs, SpaceX is privately developing the entire Falcon I and Falcon V rockets from the ground up, including main and upper stage engines, the turbo-pump, the cryogenic tank structure and the guidance system.