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SpaceX's RocketsSpaceX began in 2002, when its founder, Elon Musk, took the first steps in his grand ambition to send a mission to Mars. More than 15 years later, the company is way beyond the space startup stage.
The Hawthorne, California-based company regularly reuses rockets, sends cargo missions to the International Space Station with the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft and will fly astronauts for NASA in the future. In 2018, SpaceX launched the massive Falcon Heavy and has plans for an even larger rocket to reach Mars: the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR).
Read more about SpaceX's history of rockets and spacecraft development in the following slideshow.
First Stop: Meet the Falcon 1
Falcon 1Slide 2 of 38
Falcon 1The Falcon 1 was the first rocket manufactured by SpaceX. It had a proposed capacity to carry 670 kilograms (1,480 lbs.) to low Earth orbit, and it flew between 2006 and 2009. After three launch failures, Falcon 1 sent a dummy payload to space on Sept. 29, 2008. Its fifth and final launch, on July 14, 2009, sent RazakSAT, a Malaysian Earth-observation satellite, into orbit. Falcon 1 rockets launched from Omelek Island, part of the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. And in case you're wondering, Musk named the Falcon rockets after the Millennium Falcon ship from "Star Wars."
NEXT: The Falcon 9Slide 3 of 38
Developing Falcon 9Slide 4 of 38
Developing Falcon 9SpaceX quickly received interest from several companies looking for a heavier-lift rocket. The company had considered developing an intermediary rocket called the Falcon 5, but instead skipped ahead and began work on the Falcon 9. This rocket can send a payload to low Earth orbit weighing up to 28,991 lbs. (13,150 kg). It is a two-stage rocket. SpaceX first advertised plans for the Falcon 9 in 2005 and sent the debut Falcon 9 aloft on June 7, 2010, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Early customers of the rocket included Bigelow Aerospace; Avanti Communications; and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates.
NEXT: Reusable RocketsSlide 5 of 38
Ground landingsSlide 6 of 38
Ground landingsSpaceX's first successful Falcon 9 landing in Landing Zone 1, on Dec. 21, 2015, was hailed as a milestone for rocket reusability. However, the company still tried to improve on that achievement. SpaceX experienced a mix of successful and failed ocean landings in 2014 and 2015. [SpaceX's Epic Falcon 9 Rocket Landing in Pictures]
In 2015, SpaceX was also trying to land on drone ships in the ocean. While these landings kept ending with failure, Musk would post the videos and pictures on his Twitter feed, acknowledging mistakes made, and the company would work on improving for the next flight.
NEXT: SpaceX's first landing at seaSlide 7 of 38
Dragon dreamsSlide 8 of 38