Awesome. Next step: SpaceSteading.
A pioneering rocket company that wants to take over the job of sending U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station launched an imaging satellite into orbit late on Monday for a Malaysian firm, its first paying customer.
Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 1 rocket lifted off from Omelek Island in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Western Pacific at 11:35 p.m. EDT/0335 GMT on Tuesday carrying the 400-pound (180-kg) RazakSAT satellite, designed and built by ATSB of Malaysia.
The spacecraft has black-and-white and color cameras to take high-resolution pictures of agricultural lands, forests, urban centers and other targets in Malaysia for commercial and government customers.
It was the fifth flight for Space Exploration Technologies, a privately funded California firm founded by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, a co-creator of the PayPal financial services company that was purchased by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.
SpaceX’s first three launches in 2006, 2007 and 2008, fell short of reaching orbit.
Its fourth launch last September successfully put a dummy payload into orbit.
In addition to its Falcon 1 rocket, which can put a half-ton payload into orbit for about $8 million, SpaceX is developing a heavy-lift Falcon 9 rocket that can carry 11 tons to low-Earth orbit, or four tons to an orbit 22,300 miles above the planet, for about $40 million.