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Made Manifest


As a privately held company, SpaceX is not known for transparency. But until recently, the company was the only one in the launch industry to post a manifest on its website, indicating the customer for each mission and the year it was slated to orbit.

After its first full year in the commercial launch business, however -- a year in which SpaceX lifted roughly half the missions it had initially planned –- the company has deviated from past practice and is now omitting the “year” field indicating when missions are scheduled to launch.

In addition, the website now lists customer missions alphabetically, rather than in chronological order.

The approach is understandable, given that all launches are subject to variables outside of SpaceX's control. It will certainly make it more difficult for competitors to crack wise as to the improbable number of missions SpaceX expects to launch in a given year. At last count, before the website changed, SpaceX had more than a dozen launches scheduled in 2015, excluding those that were delayed from this year to next.

The revamped manifest also now lists the dates of past missions, offering quick insight into SpaceX's launch cadence. Note, for example, that in September SpaceX lifted two different spacecraft to orbit in the span of just 14 days. Since then, despite a manifest teeming with government and commercial missions, they haven't launched anything, though their next mission -- the company's fifth cargo run to the ISS -- is slated for Jan. 6.




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