Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), a privately owned space exploration company has started on the first of the 12 missions it is set to perform for NASA in a Mega contract signed between the two companies. Spacex became the first private company to launch a craft to the space station after it was awarded the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract to design and demonstrate a launch system to resupply cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX signed a contract with NASA, worth $1.6 billion to be delivering cargo and food supplies at ISS, for 12 missions through 2014. SpaceX has about 29 missions scheduled between now and 2017, with a total value of about $40 billion. The company is believed worth about $2.4 billion dollars according to the pricing of its stock in private markets and is rumored to be plotting an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for next year (2013).
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SpaceX’s CEO and Chief Technical Officer, Elon Musk is quoted in a statement saying, “we are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission,” following the company’s first commercial mission to the international space station. Musk added, “we still have a lot of work to do, of course, as we guide Dragon’s approach to the space station. However, the launch was an unqualified success”.
The Dragon Capsule is touted by SpaceX as the only craft capable of carrying significant amount of supplies back to earth, and will be carrying scientific materials and space station hardware on its return flight. A report published by Fox News claims that, none of the cargo ships from Russia, Japan, or Europe, is able to bring anything else, but humans back home, as they are designed to, only fit humans on their way back; everything else is destroyed.
Elsewhere, from the point of view of NASA, Charles F. Bolden, who is a national aeronautics and space administration, administrator, “this was a critical event for NASA and the nation tonight, and we are once again launching spacecraft from American soil with the supplies our astronauts need from space”.
The California-based SpaceX was founded by former PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk in the year 2002, and has since developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles with the latter transporting cargo with a greater plan of carrying humans to the space in the future. Musk raised approximately $100 million as part of the inception capital.
Other shareholders of the Space Exploration company include former Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) president, Sean Parker through a venture capital fund that goes by name The Founders Fund; along with the Draper Fisher Jurvetson, with the two funds contributing about $100 million.