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SpaceX moves back launch date, raises $50 million

November 9, 2010 |  8:35 pm


Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the privately owned, Hawthorne-based rocket venture, bumped back the maiden launch of its Dragon spacecraft to carry out more testing.

The first flight of the capsule, which is being designed to carry cargo and crew for NASA, is now slated for Dec. 7. It had been scheduled for Nov. 20.

When it does blast off, it will be a crucial test for the company, better known as SpaceX. The Dragon capsule is considered to be a contender for the job of ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station after the space shuttle program is mothballed in 2011.

NASA has already awarded SpaceX an additional $1.6 billion in contracts to transport cargo to the International Space Station on the Dragon, starting as early as next year.

In the test launch, the capsule will be launched on top of SpaceX’s massive Falcon 9 rocket. The nine-engine rocket made its maiden flight from a launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla., in June.

In addition, SpaceX revealed in a securities filing Tuesday that it raised $50 million in funding from investors.

SpaceX currently employs more than 1,100 people, mostly in California. The firm makes its rockets in a sprawling facility in Hawthorne that once housed the production line for Boeing's 747 jumbo jet.

-- W.J. Hennigan


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Photo: The SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket lifts off at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in June. Credit: Matt Stroshane / Getty Images