SpaceX is best known for its ambition to create a human colony on Mars.
CEO of Tesla Elon Musk created the Private Aerospace company in 2002, as part of a project called Mars Oasis, which studied and explored ways to send a mini greenhouse to the red planet in order to cultivate interplanetary plants.
After failing to get ‘low priced’ rockets for the NASA project and returning empty-handed from a procurement mission to Russia, Elon Musk decided he needed to create his own rockets. Today, SpaceX has almost 10,000 employees, has sent several rockets to the International Space Station and has successfully returned to Earth with Recycled Rockets.
SpaceX is funded by a combination of venture capital, commercial and public contracts, which include agreements with NASA, the US air force, and other private companies. Musk plans to keep the company private until his ‘Mars Colonial Transporter’ flies regularly.
The Mars Objective
Musk’s ultimate goal is to send humans to Mars, as part of his plan to create a colony on the red planet. Musk hopes that the first human-carrying spacecraft will leave around the mid-2020s.
To reach Mars, Elon musk relies on his BFR, a huge reusable rocket. This rocket includes 40 cabins which can accommodate 2-3 people.
Before Mars will be able to welcome humans, the planet needs a minimum of infrastructure. So, in 2022, Elon Musk plans to send cargo ships to locate water sources.
Elon Musk also intends to use the BFR for land travel. The BFR would make it possible to cross the planet in just one hour. But in this area, SpaceX will have to fight with Virgin Galactic, owned by Richard Branson who has also entered this market. However, SpaceX’s advantage would be that the cost of a trip “Should be about the same as a full fare ticket” according to Elon Musk.
On December 21, 2015, SpaceX succeeds in landing a spacecraft for the first time. Subsequently, there were other inconclusive tests until April 2016 and May 2016 when the rocket landed without damage on SpaceX’s maritime platforms.
On February 6, 2018, Elon Musk sent the Falcon heavy to space, and the rocket successfully returned on November later that year.
SpaceX’s Notable Achievements
- SpaceX Launches the first Falcon 1 rocket on September 28, 2008. The first-ever privately funded liquid-fuel rocket to reach orbit.
- SpaceX launches the Dragon Capsule, on December 9, 2012.
- SpaceX launches the SES-8. A geostationary communication satellite, on December 3, 2013.
- SpaceX launches the Falcon 9 Flight 20, on December 22, 2015, which became the first rocket to successfully return to earth.
- SpaceX relaunches the Falcon 9 Flight 2020 on March 30, 2017. Making it the first reused rocket.
- SpaceX becomes the private company to send human-rated spacecraft to space on March 2, 2019, with the SpaceX demo-1. This was the company’s latest mission.
In the future, SpaceX plans to send citizens to the around the moon in its Dragon V2 spacecraft. The company has selected two participants for this mission, which will be funded by NASA and US citizens’ money. This trip will mark the new era of commercial travel in space, and if all goes well, the company will continue to develop its technologies for further progress.