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SpaceX inks contract to launch Thai satellite into orbit

June 13, 2011 |  1:22 pm

Hawthorne-based rocket maker SpaceX announced it signed a major launch contract with a Thai communications company to lift a 7,000-pound satellite into orbit.

Although the financial details were not disclosed, SpaceX and Thaicom said the satellite will be launched aboard SpaceX’s 18-story Falcon 9 rocket, which can cost up to $59.5 million. Falcon9

In a statement, SpaceX said it expects to launch the satellite, dubbed Thaicom 6, in the second quarter of 2013 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

“This deal highlights the confidence that satellite operators have in SpaceX capabilities, and is the latest example of the effect SpaceX is having on the international commercial launch market,” Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, said in a statement. “Asia is a critical market and SpaceX is honored to support its growing launch needs with a reliable U.S.-based solution.”

The upstart, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has now signed contracts with eight international customers for its massive Falcon 9 rocket, which made its maiden flight last June from Cape Canaveral.

The Thaicom 6 satellite will be built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. and is “designed to serve the growing satellite television market in South and South-East Asia, as well as Southern Africa,” the statement said.

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--W.J. Hennigan

twitter.com/wjhenn

Photo: SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral on its maiden flight last June. Credit: Chris Thompson / SpaceX

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