Space Exploration considering IPO: Musk

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:20am BST

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies, the space transportation company founded by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, could pursue an initial public offering next year.

"I think there's a decent chance of an IPO toward the end of next year," Musk told a media briefing on Tuesday at the National Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "It's something that we are considering."

Musk said his company, which is called SpaceX, did not need an IPO to complete Falcon Heavy, a rocket it is building with twice the lift capacity of NASA's space shuttle and that promises to cut launch costs.

Falcon Heavy is based on the company's Falcon 9 rocket, which has made two successful flights and which NASA has purchased to fly cargo to the International Space Station after the shuttle program ends this summer. Musk said Falcon Heavy had lower launch costs than heavy-lift rockets supplied by domestic carriers.

Musk, co-founder of PayPal and chairman of electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O), stood in front of the SpaceX Dragon capsule that was put into orbit and brought back safely to Earth in a test flight in December.

He said one of his main goals was to make sure SpaceX can compete for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. That U.S. Air Force initiative, designed to reduce the cost of government space launches through greater contractor competition, produced the Delta IV and Atlas V heavy rockets made by Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N).

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; editing by Dave Zimmerman and Andre Grenon)

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