Hawthorne, CA (January 23, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announced the donation of experimental payload space aboard an upcoming flight of their Dragon spacecraft to support the Heinlein Trust Microgravity Research Competition.

The winner’s experimental payload will remain in the microgravity environment for an extended period of time before returning to Earth. Historically, these opportunities have been limited by availability on Shuttle, often involving a waiting period of many years.

“SpaceX is excited to offer our Dragon spacecraft as a platform for in-space experimentation services to mainstream researchers,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and CTO. “We plan to fly ‘DragonLab’ missions starting in 2010 for this express purpose,” Musk said.

SpaceX has partnered with the Heinlein Prize Trust and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University in order to promote innovation in the field of microgravity research.

Details on the competition can be found at: http://www.heinleinprize.com/news/microgravity.html

For applications and rules please visit: http://www.labflight.com.

About SpaceX

SpaceX is revolutionizing access to space by developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation, ultimately by a factor of ten. With its Falcon line of launch vehicles, powered by internally-developed Merlin engines, SpaceX offers light, medium and heavy lift capabilities to deliver spacecraft into any altitude and inclination, from low-Earth orbit to geosynchronous to planetary missions. On September 28, 2008, Falcon 1, designed and manufactured from the ground up by SpaceX, became the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to orbit the Earth, demonstrating that low cost and reliability can be coupled in commercial spaceflight.

As a winner of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition (COTS), SpaceX will conduct three flights of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, culminating in Dragon berthing with the ISS. SpaceX is the only COTS contender that has the capability to return cargo and crew to Earth. NASA also has an option to demonstrate crew transportation services to the ISS using the Falcon 9 / Dragon system.

In December 2008, NASA selected the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS) Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) contract award. The contract includes 12 flights between 2010 and 2015, which represents a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be carried to the ISS. Founded in 2002, the SpaceX team now numbers more than 620 full time employees, primarily located in Hawthorne, California, with additional locations in Texas, at SpaceX’s Test Facility in McGregor near Waco; offices in Washington DC; and launch facilities at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific.

Cassie L. Kloberdanz
Media & Public Relations
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