Elon Musk’s SpaceX Scores Google Investment and NASA Contracts

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By Jacob Maslow

Connected planetElon Musk may be best-known for Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA), but his other big enterprise, SpaceX, is making headlines.

SpaceX has secured $4.2 billion in contracts for hauling supplies and U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. According to Pentagon officials, the company will also be certified to haul military payloads.

SpaceX’s satellite-launching business also attracted the likes of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Fidelity Investments, who invested $1 billion in the company back in January. The billion-dollar investment gives both companies a 10% stake in SpaceX, which is valued at $10 billion. Other SpaceX investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Founders Fund, Capricorn and Valor Equity Partners.

Thus far, SpaceX has had 50 successful launches worth $5 billion. The company is turning a profit, but the company has yet to reveal how much.

The company’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully delivered over 5,000 pounds of supplies to the space station in early January. So far, SpaceX has 16 satellite launches scheduled for 2015 – the most the company has ever seen.

Google hopes to use SpaceX’s satellite launches to provide Internet to remote areas of the world. Aaron Stein, a Google spokesman, said image satellites can provide more people with access to important information, so Google is excited to see SpaceX grow.

Currently, SpaceX employs 4,000 people and offers cheaper satellite and rocket launches than NASA and the military. Elon Musk can launch a satellite into space for just $60 million. United Launch Alliance, a private competitor, spends $225 million.

Musk also has a money-saving goal to drop the cost even lower. His plan is to produce reusable rockets that will return to Earth on a seagoing barge. Reusable rockets could lower the cost to $200,000 to $300,000 a flight.

SpaceX also has some more ambitious plans, including a plan to colonize Mars. The first manned flights to the planet could happen in as little as 15 years.

Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos

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