Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. SpaceX has developed several launch vehicles and rocket engines, as well as the Dragon cargo spacecraft and the Starlink satellite constellation (providing internet access), and has flown humans and cargo to the International Space Station on the SpaceX Dragon 2.
SpaceX's achievements include the first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach orbit (Falcon 1 in 2008), the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft (Dragon in 2010), the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station (Dragon in 2012), the first vertical take-off and vertical propulsive landing for an orbital rocket (Falcon 9 in 2015), the first reuse of an orbital rocket (Falcon 9 in 2017), the first to launch a private spacecraft into orbit around the Sun (Falcon Heavy's payload of a Tesla Roadster in 2018), and the first private company to send astronauts to orbit and to the International Space Station (SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 and SpaceX Crew-1 missions in 2020). As of 1 February 2021, SpaceX has flown 21 cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) under a partnership with NASA, as well as an uncrewed demonstration flight of the human-rated Dragon 2 spacecraft (Crew Dragon Demo-1) on 2 March 2019, and two manned flights.
In December 2015, a Falcon 9 accomplished a propulsive vertical landing. This was the first such achievement by a rocket for orbital spaceflight. In April 2016, with the launch of SpaceX CRS-8, SpaceX successfully vertically landed the first stage on an ocean drone ship landing platform. In May 2016, in another first, SpaceX again landed the first stage, but during a significantly more energetic geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) mission. In March 2017, SpaceX became the first to successfully re-launch and land the first stage of an orbital rocket. In January 2020, with the third launch of the Starlink project, SpaceX became the largest commercial satellite constellation operator in the world.
In September 2016, Musk unveiled the Interplanetary Transport System — subsequently renamed Starship — a privately funded launch system to develop spaceflight technology for use in crewed interplanetary spaceflight. In 2017, Musk unveiled an updated configuration of the system which is intended to handle interplanetary missions plus become the primary SpaceX orbital vehicle after the early 2020s, as SpaceX has announced it intends to eventually replace its existing Falcon 9 launch vehicles and Dragon space capsule fleet with Starship, even in the Earth-orbit satellite delivery market. Starship is planned to be fully reusable and will be the largest rocket ever on its debut, scheduled for the early 2020s.
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