A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, February 6, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

Elon Musk's SpaceX raises $346 million ahead of debut astronaut mission


Elon Musk’s SpaceX said on Tuesday that it raised $346.2 million in a new round of funding, a day before it launches two American astronauts to the International Space Station.

The private rocket company’s launch of its first crewed mission on Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will put an end to the US space agency’s nine-year hiatus in human spaceflight.

US President Donald Trump will be among the spectators at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to witness the launch, which has been given the green light despite months of shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A successful flight will mark a milestone in the quest to produce reusable spacecraft that can make space travel more affordable.

Musk is the founder and chief executive officer of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla.

Including the latest round, the company has raised more than $567 million and is valued at about $36 billion, according to a CNBC report.

Musk is aiming higher: he is building a huge rocket, Starship, to circumnavigate the Moon or even to travel to Mars and ultimately make humanity a “multi-planet species”.