Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California.

SpaceX was founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars. SpaceX has since developed the Falcon launch vehicle family and the Dragon spacecraft family, which both currently deliver payloads into Earth's orbit.

The Dragon resupply mission represented the first reflight of a commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station.

SpaceX Launch Vehicles:

Mass to LEO
Mass to GTO

Falcon 1 [no longer in production]

420kg (926 lb)


Falcon 1e [proposed - never flown]

1010kg (2220 lb)


Falcon 9

22,800kg (50,265 lb)

8,300kg (18,300 lb)

63,800kg (140,660 lb)

26,700kg (58,860 lb)

Starship [in development]

100,000+ kg (220,000+ lb)


SpaceX was formed in the hopes of revolutionizing the aerospace industry and making affordable spaceflight a reality. The company entered the arena with the Falcon 1 rocket, a two-stage liquid-fueled craft designed to send small satellites into orbit. The Falcon 1 was vastly cheaper to build and operate than its competitors, a field largely populated by spacecraft built by publicly owned and government-funded companies such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Part of the rocket’s cost-effectiveness was made possible by the SpaceX-developed Merlin engine, a cheaper alternative to those used by other companies. SpaceX also focused on making reusable rockets (other launch vehicles are generally made for one-time use). 

In March 2006 SpaceX made its first Falcon 1 launch, which began successfully but ended prematurely because of a fuel leak and fire. By this time, however, the company had already earned millions of dollars in launching orders, many of them from the U.S. government. In August of that year SpaceX was a winner of a NASA competition for funds to build and demonstrate spacecraft that could potentially service the ISS after the decommissioning of the space shuttle. Falcon 1 launches that failed to attain Earth orbit followed in March 2007 and August 2008, but in September 2008 SpaceX became the first privately owned company to send a liquid-fueled rocket into orbit. Three months later it won a NASA contract for servicing the ISS that was worth more than $1 billion. 

In 2010 SpaceX first launched its Falcon 9, a bigger craft so named for its use of nine engines, and the following year it broke ground on a launch site for the Falcon Heavy, a craft the company hoped would be the first to break the $1,000-per-pound-to-orbit cost barrier and that might one day be used to transport astronauts into deep space. In December 2010 the company reached another milestone, becoming the first commercial company to release a spacecraft—the Dragon capsule—into orbit and successfully return it to Earth. Dragon again made history on May 25, 2012, when it became the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the ISS, to which it successfully delivered cargo. In August that year, SpaceX announced that it had won a contract from NASA to develop a successor to the space shuttle that would transport astronauts into space. 

The Falcon 9 was designed so that its first stage could be reused. In 2015 a Falcon 9 first stage successfully returned to Earth near its launch site. Beginning in 2016, SpaceX also began using drone ships for rocket stage landings. A rocket stage that had returned to Earth was successfully reused in a 2017 launch. That same year, a Dragon capsule was reused on a flight to the ISS. The Falcon Heavy rocket had its first test flight in 2018. Two of the three first stages landed successfully; the third hit the water near the drone ship. That Falcon Heavy did not carry a satellite but instead placed into orbit around the Sun a Tesla Roadster with a mannequin in a space suit buckled into the driver’s seat. 

The first crewed flight of a Dragon capsule to the ISS was scheduled for 2019. SpaceX also announced the successor to the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy: the Super Heavy–Starship system (originally called the BFR [Big Falcon Rocket]). The Super Heavy first stage would be capable of lifting 100,000 kg (220,000 pounds) to low Earth orbit. The payload would be the Starship, a spacecraft designed for several purposes, including providing fast transportation between cities on Earth and building bases on the Moon and Mars. SpaceX planned to use the Starship for a flight around the Moon carrying Japanese businessman Maezawa Yusaku and several artists in 2023 and to launch settlers to Mars in the mid-2020s. 


September 21, 2019

SpaceX shares Starship progress update.

August 26, 2019

Starhopper didn’t succeed at first, but now it will try, try again.

A day after SpaceX's first attempt to launch the Starhopper test vehicle to an altitude of 150 meters, the company plans to try again.

June 25, 2019

Falcon Heavy launches STP-2 mission with Falcon Heavy

May 10, 2019

SpaceX postpones Starlink satellite launch again, for 'about a week'

April 12, 2019

SpaceX launches mega rocket, lands all 3 boosters

April 11, 2019

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launched its first commercial mission from Florida.

April 11, 2019

SpaceX launched its second supersized rocket and for the first time landed all three boosters Thursday, a year after sending up a sports car on the initial test flight.

April 2019

As Elon Musk's SpaceX closes in on the possible cause of a fiery explosion in April that destroyed one of its astronaut capsules, a company executive said on Monday its plan to launch humans into space this year looked "increasingly difficult.

August 7, 2018

SpaceX successfully launched and landed used Falcon 9’s first stage booster from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:18AM ET.

February 2018

SpaceX launched the car on a test flight of its Heavy rocket.

February 2018

SpaceX launches two Starlink test satellites, dubbed Tintin A and B


In 2016, another SpaceX rocket exploded, destroying a $200 million communications satellite on board, and Mr. Musk was criticized for moving too quickly in the complex industry of space travel.


NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co $6.8 billion to build the vehicles that will transport its astronauts to the International Space Station.

NASA has relied on Russia to carry out manned space flights since it retired its space shuttles in 2011.

May 6, 2002

founding of SpaceX


4 Results
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Starlink is a constellation of satellites that will orbit in low Earth and provide internet to rural areas.


Spacecraft developed by spacex, designed for both manned and unmanned missions

Family of two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicles designed and manufactured by spacex

Space launch vehicle developed by SpaceX

Funding rounds

5 Results
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Funding round amount (USD)
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Funding round date
December 2018



Elon Musk



Principal Mars Development Engineer

Thomas Mueller

Propulsion CTO

Further reading


NASA and SpaceX

NASA / James Cawley

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