Sunday, December 4, 2022

History of SpaceX: Facts about Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company

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Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (doing business as SpaceX) is an American spacecraft manufacturer, space launch provider, and a satellite communications corporation headquartered in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. SpaceX manufactures the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, several rocket engines, Cargo Dragon, crew spacecraft, and Starlink communications satellites. History of SpaceX was really Interesting.

SpaceX is developing a satellite internet constellation named Starlink to provide commercial internet service. In January 2020, the Starlink constellation became the largest satellite constellation ever launched, and as of May 2022 it comprises over 2,400 small satellites in orbit.[7] The company is also developing Starship, a privately funded, fully reusable, super heavy-lift launch system for interplanetary and orbital spaceflight. Starship is intended to become SpaceX's primary orbital vehicle once operational, supplanting the existing Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon fleet. Starship will have the highest payload capacity of any orbital rocket ever built on its debut, scheduled for 2022 pending launch license.

History of SpaceX:

Main article: History of SpaceX

See also: List of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches

2001–2004: Founding

In early 2001, Elon Musk donated $100,000 to the Mars Society and joined its board of directors for a short time.  He was offered a plenary talk at their convention where he announced Mars Oasis, a project to land a miniature experimental greenhouse and grow plants on Mars, to revive public interest in space exploration. Musk initially attempted to acquire a Dnepr ICBM for the project through Russian contacts from Jim Cantrell. However two months later, the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty and created the Missile Defense Agency, increasing tensions with Russia and generating new strategic interest for rapid and re-usable launch capability similar to the DC-X.

In early 2002, Musk started to look for staff for his new space company, soon to be named SpaceX. Musk approached rocket engineer Tom Mueller (later SpaceX's CTO of propulsion) and invited him to become his business partner. Mueller agreed to work for Musk, and thus SpaceX was born. SpaceX was first headquartered in a warehouse in El Segundo, California. Early SpaceX employees such as Tom Mueller (CTO), Gwynne Shotwell (COO) and Chris Thompson (VP of Operations) came from neighboring TRW and Boeing corporations following the cancellation of the Brilliant Pebbles program. By November 2005, the company had 160 employees. Musk personally interviewed and approved all of SpaceX's early employees.

2005–2009: Falcon 1 and first orbital launches

Main article: Falcon 1

The first successful Falcon 1 launch in September 2008
SpaceX developed its first orbital launch vehicle, the Falcon 1, with internal funding. The Falcon 1 was an expendable two-stage-to-orbit small-lift launch vehicle. The total development cost of Falcon 1 was approximately US$90 million to US$100 million.
In 2005, SpaceX announced plans to pursue a human-rated commercial space program through the end of the decade, a program that would later become the Dragon spacecraft.In 2006, the company was selected by NASA to provide crew and cargo resupply demonstration contracts to the ISS under the COTS program.

2010–2012: Falcon 9, Dragon, and NASA contracts

Video of the first launch of Falcon 9
SpaceX originally intended to follow its light Falcon 1 launch vehicle with an intermediate capacity vehicle, the Falcon 5. The company instead decided in 2005 to proceed with the development of the Falcon 9, a reusable heavier lift vehicle. Development of the Falcon 9 was accelerated by NASA, which committed to purchase several commercial flights if specific capabilities were demonstrated. This started with seed money from the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program in 2006. The overall contract award was US$278 million to provide development funding for the Dragon spacecraft, Falcon 9, and demonstration launches of Falcon 9 with Dragon.As part of this contract, the Falcon 9 launched for the first time in June 2010 with the Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit, using a mockup of the Dragon spacecraft.

2013–2015: Commercial launches and rapid growth

Launch of Falcon 9 carrying ORBCOMM OG2-M1, July 2014
SpaceX launched the first commercial mission for a private customer in 2013. In 2014, SpaceX won nine contracts out of the 20 that were openly competed worldwide. That year Arianespace requested that European governments provide additional subsidies to face the competition from SpaceX. Beginning in 2014, SpaceX capabilities and pricing also began to affect the market for launch of U.S. military payloads, which for nearly a decade had been dominated by the large U.S. launch provider United Launch Alliance (ULA). The monopoly had allowed launch costs by the U.S. provider to rise to over US$400 million over the years. In September 2014. There are many unforgettable memories in the History of SpaceX.

 

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