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SpaceX secures mission contracts with U.S. Air Force

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Space Exploration Technologies has secured two mission contracts with the U.S. Air Force.

Also known as SpaceX, the rocket and spacecraft manufacturer has announced that the United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has given the firm two missions based on Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) technology.

Under the terms of the agreement, SpaceX wil launch two missions in 2014 and 2015, dubbed the "DSCOVR" (Deep Space Climate Observatory) and "STP-2" (Space Test Program 2) projects. As part of the EELV program, the DSCOVR mission will be launched aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 vehicle, and STP-2 will be launched aboard the company's Falcon Heavy spacecraft, touted as the "world's most powerful rocket."

Both are expected to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, although this could change when the time comes near.

The missions, DSCOVR and STP-2 are classified under OSP-3 (Orbital/Suborbital Program-3) programs, which gives new entry companies into the EELV field a chance to prove their worth.

Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO and chief designer offered the following statement:

"SpaceX deeply appreciates and is honored by the vote of confidence shown by the Air Force in our Falcon launch vehicles. We look forward to providing high reliability access to space with lift capability to orbit that is substantially greater than any other launch vehicle in the world."

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— By on December 5, 2012, 7:18 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure