SpaceX Plans Five More Launches This Year

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WASHINGTON — SpaceX’s new Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket will perform its inaugural flight in June from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and then fly in early July from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., for its first commercial geostationary satellite launch, a SpaceX official said March 19.

Barry Matsumori, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) senior vice president for commercial sales and business development, said the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company expects to be able to launch as often as every three weeks.

This is the year that SpaceX is scheduled to make its first big splash into the commercial market. The company has lined up more than $1 billion in commercial satellite launch orders to complement its NASA business, in part by offering prices of $60 million or less for midsize commercial telecommunications satellites.

The June launch of Canada’s Cassiope satellite will be into low Earth orbit but will test the new Falcon 9 sufficiently to prepare for a July launch of the SES-8 telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit, the company says.

Following the launch of the SES-8 satellite, owned by SES of Luxembourg, SpaceX plans a late-July launch of the Thaicom 6 telecommunications satellite for satellite fleet operator Thaicom of Thailand, Matsumori said during a Satellite 2013 panel discussion.

Sometime during the fall, SpaceX will launch a group of second-generation Orbcomm machine-to-machine messaging satellites for service provider Orbcomm. These satellites are intended for low Earth orbit.

The company plans to round out the year with a launch of its Dragon cargo supply capsule to the international space station, Matsumori said.