Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, is an Americanaerospace manufacturer and space transport services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California, United States. It was founded in 2002 by Tesla Motors CEO and former PayPalentrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of creating the technologies to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars. It has developed the Falcon 1and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, both designed to be reusable, and the Dragon spacecraftwhich is flown into orbit by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle to supply the International Space Station (ISS) with cargo. A manned version of Dragon is in development.
SpaceX's achievements include the first privately funded, liquid-propellant rocket (Falcon 1) to reach orbit, in 2008; the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft (Dragon), in 2010; and the first private company to send a spacecraft (Dragon) to the ISS, in 2012. The launch of SES-8, in 2013, was the first SpaceX delivery into geosynchronous orbit, while the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), in 2015, was the company's first delivery beyond Earth orbit.
SpaceX began a privately funded reusable launch system technology development program in 2011 and, in December 2015, successfully returned a first stage back to a landing pad near the launch site and accomplished a propulsive vertical landing. This was the first such accomplishment by a rocket on an orbital trajectory. On April 8, 2016, with the launch of CRS-8, SpaceX successfully vertically landed a first stage on an ocean drone-shiplanding platform on a mission that also delivered a Dragon space capsule to Low Earth Orbit. On May 6, 2016, SpaceX again landed a first stage, but on a geostationary transfer orbit mission, another first.
NASA awarded the company a Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract in 2006, to design and demonstrate a launch system to resupply cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX, as of July 2016 has flown nine missions to the ISS under acargo resupply contract. NASA also awarded SpaceX a contract in 2011 to develop and demonstrate a human-rated Dragon as part of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program to transport crew to the ISS.
In September 2016, SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk unveiled substantial parts of the launch vehicle, spacecraft, and mission architectureof the Interplanetary Transport System program, an ambitious privately-funded initiative to develop spaceflight technology for use in interplanetary spaceflight, and if demand emerges, could lead to sustainable human settlements on Mars over the very long term.