The US Space Force said on Monday that Elon Musk’s SpaceX was granted approval to lease a second rocket launch complex at a military base in California, setting the space company up for its fifth launch site in the United States.
Under the lease, SpaceX will launch its workhorse Falcon rockets from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, a military launch site north of Los Angeles where the space company operates another launchpad. It has two others in Florida and its private Starbase site in south Texas.
A Monday night Space Force statement said a letter of support for the decision was signed on Friday by Space Launch Delta 30 commander Col. Rob Long. The statement did not mention the duration of SpaceX’s lease.
The new launch site, vacated last year by the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance, gives SpaceX more room to handle an increasingly busy launch schedule for commercial, government and internal satellite launches.
Vandenberg Space Force Base allows for launches in a southern trajectory over the Pacific Ocean, which is often used for weather monitoring, military or spy satellites that commonly rely on polar Earth orbits.
SpaceX’s grant of Space Launch Complex-6 comes as rocket companies prepare to compete for the Pentagon’s Phase 3 National Security Space Launch programme, a watershed military launch procurement effort expected to begin in the next year or so.
Last month, Musk denied a media report from earlier this week that said investors from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were planning to invest in a multi-billion-dollar funding round in the company.
A unit of Saudi Arabia’s investment fund and an Abu Dhabi-based company are planning to invest in a multi-billion-dollar funding round for SpaceX, the Information had reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the discussions.
Musk tweeted “not true” responding to the report.
The funding round is expected to value the rocket maker at about $140 billion (roughly Rs. 11,54,384 crore), the report added.
SpaceX raised $2 billion (roughly Rs. 16,491 crore) in 2022 and $2.6 billion (roughly Rs. 21,438 crore) in 2020, according to venture capital firm Space Capital.
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