May 30, 2012
Credit: Credit: Intelsat
Intelsat Global Holdings will buy a ride for a future communications satellite on Space Exploration Technologies’ planned heavy-lift rocket, the companies said May 29.
The contract is the first for a Falcon Heavy rocket, which is being designed to carry more than twice as much as the Boeing-built Delta 4 Heavy launcher, which is currently the biggest rocket in the U.S. fleet.
Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has said it expects to sell Falcon Heavy flights to commercial customers for about $100 million.
United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin that markets and flies Delta 4 and Atlas 5 rockets, does not disclose prices.
Luxembourg-based, privately held Intelsat currently operates 52 communications satellites and has plans to launch four more spacecraft this year, said company spokesman Alex Horwitz.
The contract with SpaceX is for one satellite launch, he added. A launch site and time frame for the flight were not disclosed.
Intelsat’s launch will follow test flights of Falcon Heavy, a rocket based on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket that last week launched a Dragon cargo capsule on a test flight to the International Space Station.
SpaceX, which is owned and operated by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, has a 12-flight, $1.6 billion contract with NASA to deliver cargo to and from the space station, which orbits about 240 miles (390 km) above Earth.
Since the space shuttles were retired last year, the United States is dependent on partner countries in Europe, Japan and Russia to fly cargo and crew to the $100 billion outpost.