SpaceX Owes $50M or Free Flight After Explosion: Satellite Owner

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An explosion on the launch site of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is shown in Cape Canaveral, Florida, September 1. Twitter.com/Reuters

Israel's Space Communication Ltd said on Sunday it could seek $50 million or a free flight from Elon Musk's SpaceX after a Spacecom communications satellite was destroyed last week by an explosion at SpaceX's Florida launch site.

Officials of the Israeli company said in a conference call with reporters Sunday that Spacecom also could collect $205 million from Israel Aircraft Industries, which built the AMOS-6 satellite.

SpaceX did not immediately reply to a request Sunday morning for comment about Spacecom's claim. The company is not public, and it has not disclosed what insurance it had for the rocket or to cover launch pad damages beyond what they were required to buy by the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial U.S. launches, for liability and damage to government property.

SpaceX has more than 70 missions on its manifest, worth more than $10 billion, for commercial and government customers. The space launch company is one of three major transportation and energy enterprises Musk leads. The others are electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc and SolarCity Corp, and Musk faces separate challenges at each of those money losing companies.

Spacecom has been hit hard in the aftermath of the Thursday explosion that destroyed the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its payload. The Israeli company said the loss of the satellite would have a significant impact, with its equity expected to decline by $30 million to $123 million.

Spacecom shares dropped 9 percent on Thursday, with the explosion occurring late in the last trading day of the week. Trading in the shares was suspended on Sunday morning, and the stock plummeted another 34 percent when trading resumed.

In a conference call with reporters, Spacecom's general counsel Gil Lotan said it was too early to say if the company's planned merger with Beijing Xinwei Technology Group (600485.SS) would proceed. Xinwei last month agreed to buy Spacecom for $285 million, saying the deal was contingent on the successful launch and operation of Spacecom's Amos-6 satellite.

"We hope to continue fruitful communications with the prospective buyer," Lotan said.

SpaceX Owes $50M or Free Flight After Explosion: Satellite Owner | Tech & Science