NASA Awards Launch Services Contract to SpaceX
A SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket launches on the firm's second test flight on March 20, 2007.
Credit: SpaceX.

WASHINGTON -- NASA has awarded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for launch services on the company's Falcon 1 and planned Falcon 9 launch vehicles, the space agency announced Tuesday.

The contract identifies SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif., as a potential provider of launches to be ordered through June 30, 2010, and which would occur by Dec. 31, 2012. The contract value ranges from $20,000 to $1 billion, depending on the number of missions awarded, the press release said.

The contract covers launches of payloads weighing 250 kilograms or more into a circular orbit at 200 kilometers in altitude and an orbital inclination of 28.5 degrees. Payloads would be launched to support NASA's Science, Space Operations and Exploration Systems directorates.

SpaceX is the latest company to be awarded this type of contract from NASA. The original request for proposals was issued in 1999, and twice per year existing and emerging domestic launch service providers can submit proposals if their vehicles meet the minimum NASA requirements, the space agency said.

SpaceX's Falcon 1 small launcher has failed in two launches to date and is expected to make a third attempt this year. The larger Falcon 9, still under development, would launch payloads including SpaceX's planned Dragon space station cargo-delivery capsule. SpaceX is one of two companies developing space station logistics systems under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program.