SpaceX and Astrium Announce Deal to Launch Earth-Observing Satellite

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WASHINGTON — Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will launch an Earth observation satellite designed by European satellite manufacturer Astrium or its recently acquired subsidiary, Surrey Satellite Technology of Guilford, England, on a SpaceX Falcon 1e rocket, SpaceX announced Sept. 8.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed. SpaceX spokeswoman Cassie Kloberdanz said Sept. 8 that the Astrium mission is yet to be scheduled.

The Falcon 1e is an enhanced version of SpaceX’s Falcon 1 launch vehicle that launched Malaysia’s RazakSat into orbit in July. The Falcon 1 debuted in 2006 and failed in its first three missions before successfully carrying a dummy payload to orbit in September 2008 during its fourth attempt. Based on the Falcon 1, the Falcon 1e has a larger payload fairing and upgraded propulsion, structures and avionics systems, according to the news release.