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The May 25th launch success of the Elon Musk-backed SpaceX Falcon rocket has resulted in a very prompt commercial order from Intelsat. Musk is perhaps better known as the co-founder of PayPal and the cash behind the all-electric Tesla car.
However, the Falcon rocket system is now being claimed – by Musk – as the world’s fastest-growing space launch company, and he is justifiably right. However, to put his undoubted success into perspective he has a way to go just yet before beginning to match the steady success rate of the likes of Arianespace and International Launch Services.
But last week’s launch is a major step forward for SpaceX and secures fresh business from NASA (which needs his cargo-carrying rockets to get men and materials to and from the International Space Station). And it has secured this order from Intelsat. Luxembourg-based SES also has launch options with the Falcon system, as have other commercial operators.
Intelsat and SES are seeking reliability, of course, but also lower-costs to orbit their DTH and telecom satellites. Musk’s SpaceX is promising to bring down the costs by providing more launches per annum, and at a lower cost for each individual rocket. Time will tell how this scheme works out, but the support of Intelsat and the likes of SES is a major step in the right direction.