Today marks twenty years since Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It has become one of the largest private space companies in the world and has also achieved some important milestones. For one, SpaceX is the first private company to launch, put into orbit, and recover a spacecraft. It is also the first private company to send astronauts to orbit and the International Space Station (ISS). It is also trying to build its own satellite Internet service with Starlink, which uses ‘mega-constellations’ of small satellites for this.
We take a look at SpaceX’s major achievements over the past 20 years.
Falcon 1 and NASA
In 2006, NASA awarded a “Commercial Orbital Transportation Services” (COTS) contract to SpaceX, where the company was to demonstrate cargo delivery capabilities to the ISS with a contract option for crew transportation. After several unsuccessful launches in 2006 and 2008, SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 1 launch vehicle on 28 September 2008, making it the first privately developed liquid-fueled rocket to reach orbit.
It also became the first of its kind to put a commercial satellite into orbit when the Malaysian satellite Razaksat was deployed in July 2009.
In December 2010, SpaceX’s Dragon reusable spacecraft completed two successful flights, meeting all mission objectives of COTS Demo Flight 1. This made SpaceX the first private company to successfully launch, put into orbit, and recover a spacecraft.
Dragon C2, Falcon 9 reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle
In May 2012, Dragon C2+ became the first privately built spacecraft to deliver cargo to the ISS. SpaceX also launched a prototype of the Falcon 9, a reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle, in the same year. The company announced the development of its Starlink service in January 2015, promising high-speed low-latency broadband internet to all-terrain users.
In 2015, SpaceX also saw one of its biggest failures when a Falcon 9 vehicle exploded two minutes after launch. But it achieved its first successful landing at sea in December 2015 with Falcon 9 Flight 20.
Launching Starlink and Tesla into orbit
SpaceX was hit by a second major failure in September 2016 when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded, destroying a satellite payload worth more than $200 million.
In February 2018, SpaceX conducted Falcon Heavy test flights, launching Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster into space, with a mannequin wearing a spacesuit seated in front. It was the first private spacecraft to be launched into a heliocentric orbit.
In May 2019, SpaceX launched a group of 60 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket.
Crew Dragon, Starship Prototype and Inspiration 4 Mission
SpaceX made history in May 2020 when it became the first private company to send astronauts to the ISS after successfully launching two NASA astronauts into orbit aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
In 2021, it broke the record for most satellites launched in a single mission, when it launched 143 satellites on Falcon 1 in January.
On May 5, 2021, the company launched and successfully landed a prototype of its Starship rocket, which was designed as a reusable transportation system that would carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon and Mars. can go.
In September 2021, SpaceX launched the Inspiration 4 mission, successfully completing the first orbital spaceflight mission with only private citizens. The spacecraft was also the first spacecraft to orbit without a crew member with previous experience since the Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou 7 in 2008. All crew members of the mission received training from SpaceX.