Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, is an American space transport company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by former PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk. It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, both of which were designed from conception to eventually become reusable. SpaceX also developed the Dragon spacecraft to be flown into orbit by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, initially transporting cargo and later planned to carry humans. On 25 May 2012, SpaceX made history as the world's first privately held company to send a cargo payload, carried on the Dragon spacecraft, to the International Space Station.

In order to control quality and costs, SpaceX designs, tests and fabricates the majority of its components in-house, including the Merlin, Kestrel, and Draco rocket engines used on the Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft. In 2006, NASA awarded the company a Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract to design and demonstrate a launch system to resupply cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). On 9 December 2010, the launch of the COTS Demo Flight 1 mission, SpaceX became the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft. On 22 May 2012, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket carried the unmanned Dragon capsule into space, marking the first time a private company has sent a spacecraft to the space station. The unmanned, cone-shaped capsule became the first privately built and operated vehicle to ever dock with the orbiting outpost.

NASA has also awarded SpaceX a contract to develop and demonstrate a human-rated Dragon as part of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program to transport crew to the ISS. SpaceX is planning its first crewed Dragon/Falcon9 flight in 2015, when it expects to have a fully certified, human-rated launch escape system incorporated into the spacecraft.

Besides NASA contracts, SpaceX has signed contracts with private sector companies, non-American government agencies and the American military for its launch services. It has already launched, for a paying customer, a low earth orbiting satellite with its Falcon 1 booster in 2009. The company plans to launch its first commercial geostationary satellite in 2013 from a Falcon 9.

Future projects that are in the planning stages or in development include the Falcon Heavy launch system, as well as a NASA robotic mission to Mars in 2018. The Heavy is based on Falcon 9 technology, and if construction goes as planned, it will be the most powerful rocket in the American inventory since the Apollo-era Saturn V. Falcon Heavy can be used to send a crewed Dragon spacecraft on lunar orbiting missions – such as the Apollo 8 mission; or be used to send a modified unpiloted Dragon on a Mars landing mission. Musk has stated that his intention for the company is to help in the creation of a permanent human presence on Mars.

Read more about SpaceXBackground, Other Contracts, Space Vehicles, Rocket Engines

Other articles related to "spacex":

SpaceX - Rocket Engines
... Since the founding of SpaceX in 2002, the company has developed three families of rocket engines — Merlin and Kestrel for launch vehicle propulsion, and ... SpaceX is currently under development of two more rocket engines SuperDraco and Raptor ... rocket engine, not an upper stage, and that SpaceX is undertaking a substantial new rocket engine development program for Methane-based engines ...
Liquid Rocket Propellants - History - Methane
... In November 2012, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced a new direction for propulsion side of SpaceX developing methane/LOX rocket engines ... SpaceX had previously used only LOX/RP-1 for all of their primary propulsion engines ...
STS-129 - Mission Payload - SpaceX COTS UHF Communication Unit and Crew Command Panel
... Unit (CUCU) developed by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in collaboration with NASA to the ISS ... on the space station in preparation for future SpaceX flights to the orbiting complex ... The unit allows for communication between ISS and SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft via a UHF radio ...
Spaceport America - Operation - SpaceX
... In May 2013, SpaceX announced that they had signed a three-year lease for land and facilities at Spaceport America in order to support high-altitude, high-velocity flight testing ... SpaceX is using Grasshopper as one-element of a multi-element program to develop reusable boosters and second stages ... Prior to May, SpaceX had indicated that they would do these tests at US Government's adjacent White Sands Missile Range facility ...
Demo Sat
... launch of any privately funded and developed, liquid-propelled carrier rocket, the SpaceX Falcon 1 ... The launch, identified as Falcon 1 Flight 4, was conducted by SpaceX, and marked the first time the Falcon 1 rocket successfully achieved orbit, after three consecutive failures on the ... SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk estimates that Ratsat will remain in orbit for between five and ten years before burning up in the atmosphere ...