SpaceX Raises Another $50 Million to Build Private Spacecraft

New Private Space Capsule Passes Big Drop Test
The three main parachutes are seen on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft as it descends to the Pacific Ocean during an Aug. 12, 2010 drop test from an altitude of 14,000 feet. (Image credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX)

WASHINGTON? Rocket maker and NASA commercial spaceflight hopeful SpaceExplorationTechnologies (SpaceX) has raised $50.19 million in new equity financingfrom 16investors, according to a Nov. 9 filing with the U.S. Securities andExchangeCommission.

Theinvestors were not named in the filing, and SpaceX spokeswoman KirstinBrostwould only identify them as existing shareholders. "Our existinginvestorsare bullish on the futureof SpaceX and asked if they could invest more," Brost saidvia e-mailNov. 10.

Musk,SpaceX's founder and chief executive, is the company's largestshareholder.Other shareholders include fellow PayPal co-founder Luke Nosek,managingpartner of the Founders Fund of San Francisco, and venture capitalistSteveJurveston of Menlo Park, Calif.-based Draper Fisher Jurveston. [Gallery:SpaceX's Falcon Rockets and Dragon Spaceships]

Oneof two U.S. companies under contract with NASA to deliver cargo to theInternationalSpace Station, SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif., is on the hook to completethreeincreasingly sophisticated test flights of its newFalcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft over the next severalmonths.

Pendingsuccessful completion of thosedemonstrations, SpaceX would begin routine supply runs to theorbitingoutpost under a separate, fixed-price agreement.

SpaceXhas received more than $360 million from NASA since it signed on to theagency'sCommercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration programin2006.

Ofthat amount, $248 million has come from COTS milestone payments andabout $115million has come from progress payments on the company's $1.6 billionCommercial Resupply Services contract the company won in 2008.

InFebruary NASA proposed boosting its COTS funding line by $300 millionin 2011in part to keep SpaceX and the agency's other COTS partner, Dulles,Va.-basedOrbital Sciences Corp., on track. The request was authorized in the2010 NASAAuthorization Act that U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law Oct.11, butcongressional appropriators have yet to enact spending legislation tofund it.

AlthoughSpaceX's first COTS demo was originally slated to occur in September2008, thecompany's COTS agreement was later modified to reflect a June 2009date.Routine resupply runs to the space station were expected to begin asearly asDecember of this year, but development of the medium-class rocket andcargovessel has taken longer than planned.

SpaceX'sfirst COTS demonstration flight is now slated to occur noearlier than Dec.7.

  • Gallery:SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket Launches on Maiden Flight, Graphic
  • Photos:Dragon Space Capsule of SpaceX
  • Top10 Fantasy Spaceships Becoming Reality

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SpaceNews Staff Writer

Amy Klamper is a space reporter and former staff writer for the space industry news publication SpaceNews. From 2004 to 2010, Amy covered U.S. space policy, NASA and space industry professionals for SpaceNews. Her stories included profiles on major players in the space industry, space policy work in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as national policy set by the White House.