We all often hold the fantasy of being able to visit space, sharing a passion for the world of astronauts and a secret love for new missions. With technology constantly progressing, modernized approaches are improving steadily. Space technologies are definitely not lagging behind anymore, not with Elon Musk fully set on leaving his mark in this arena.
In a couple of years, Elon Musk’s fantasy of holding a greenhouse experiment on Mars switched to holding a vast number of rocket launches by setting up SpaceX, a private aerospace company.
Although the initial years of the company were grim, with it being on the verge of fizzling out, as per Musk, yet the platform went on to make history by launching their Falcon 1 rocket, succeeding in their fourth attempt with their fourth rocket, after undergoing three foiled attempts for getting to the orbit.
SpaceX was definitely not an overnight success, with the company’s founders and investors playing an incredible role in helping it make its mark today. The California-based company has enhanced its credibility with the contracts it gained from NASA and Air Force launches.
Through this blog, we will provide you a gist about the platform of SpaceX, its founders, its business model, its funding, its success story, its origin, as well as its growth.
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What is SpaceX
Being a private aerospace platform, SpaceX puts satellites into orbit and delivers cargo. The platform has set up a reusable rocket and launch system for considerably cutting back on the space flight costs.
In 2012, the company became the first private firm to send a cargo ship to the ISS. The company became the talk of the town in 2010, upon being the first private firm that is launching a payload into orbit and returning it to the earth safely.
On December 21, 2015, the platform landed upright after traveling to space and back through the Falcon 9 rocket, making this another first milestone for the company.
Recently on May 30, 2020, SpaceX launched its first crewed mission, in which a test flight termed Demo-2 sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS). This was followed by the lucrative launch of a crew of four astronauts to the ISS on November 15, 2020. This makes the platform the sole commercial spaceflight firm which has the capacity for delivering astronauts to space as of early 2021.
After four failed test flights prior to this, SpaceX launched and successfully landed its futuristic Starship on May 5, 2021, at last accomplishing a test flight of the rocketship that Elon Musk intends to use to land astronauts on the moon and send people to Mars.
Some of the leading competitors of the platform include Boeing and Blue Origin.
Who owns SpaceX
SpaceX is owned by Elon Musk, a South African-born American entrepreneur and entrepreneur. He was also the owner of PayPal (founded in 1999, which was sold to eBay in October 2002), and is the present owner of Tesla Motors which was founded in 2003.
Musk earned his first $500 at the mere age of 12 by selling a computer game that he had coded to the magazine PC and Office Technology. The man emerged as a multimillionaire in his late 20s upon selling Zip2, his start-up firm, to Compaq Computers.
Which companies has Elon Musk founded?
In 2002, Musk set up his third company SpaceX or Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, aiming at developing spacecraft for the purpose of commercial space travel.
Pegged as the “real-life Iron Man” Musk started leading the headlines from May 2012, after SpaceX launched a rocket that would send the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS).
Recently since January 2021, Musk has been the talk of the town after he reportedly outranked Jeff Bezos to emerge as the wealthiest man in the world. As of now, his wealth has risen up to $199.9 billion as SpaceX completes yet another funding round, putting him atop the Bloomberg Billionaires Index for the second time this year.
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The Origin of SpaceX
It all began back in 2001 when Musk and a couple of his friends traveled to Russia to purchase some intercontinental ballistic missiles. The man hadn't been on the lookout to kickstart a business at that time and had wished to spend his fortune on purchasing a Russian rocket at a cheap price and use it for delivering some plants or mice to Mars and also ensure their safe return.
Yet the meeting proved to be unsuccessful leading to Musk reaching the conclusion that he could prepare the rockets himself, SpaceX came to be a couple of months later.
That’s how Space Exploration Technologies Corporation i.e SpaceX came to be. Musk’s aim was to develop a rocket being both low-cost and reusable and which held the capacity of being able to undertake multiple trips.
With the purpose of accomplishing this, Musk recruited the rocket designer Tom Mueller, with whom the platform invested two years in setting up Falcon 1. A portion of the endeavor was contributed by Musk who invested $100 million from his own personal funds.
Following 3 unsuccessful attempts, Falcon 1 succeeded in venturing into space in 2008. In 2010, Falcon 9 emerged as the primary private space shuttle for traveling to and from Earth orbit.
SpaceX Business Model
From the time when the company was set up back in 2002, a wide collection of spaceship systems and rockets have been developed by it, maintaining the constant aim of cutting down on costs considerably by constructing many system parts to be reusable.
Being first in their field and consistently showing success when it comes to relaunching and reusing various rocket parts, in the long term the platform aims to set up fully reusable rocket systems that can be adopted as a channel for reaching other planets.
The platform has been making money solely through launching satellites into low earth orbit and through delivering cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
While the platform charges considerably less per launch in comparison with other players in this field, it has led to its profit margins being more minor, allowing the platform to set up more launches and offering it better opportunities for cultivating and advancing its competence when it comes to reusing parts.
Basically, the platform’s space launch services handle its revenue while the platform concentrates on its ultimate aim of traveling between planets.
With the progress in the company’s valuation regularly expanding and overpowering the progress in their revenue, the platform evidently aims to add to its sources of revenue in the future which would also incorporate potential sources of revenue from weapons like their satellite internet constellation, Starlink.
SpaceX set up Demo 2 satellites with the goal of setting up over 4,000 satellites in the near future for developing its Starlink constellation array. These satellites will be providing low-cost internet access on a global scale.
Yet another effective potential revenue source would be high-speed travel on Earth.
The company’s evolution in case of reusable rocket technology enables it to challenge airlines in the near future by adopting a finalized high-speed rocket-based system that can deliver passengers from one point, arrive at a low-earth orbit and SpaceX’s progress in reusable rocket technology could allow it to compete directly with airlines in the future using a proposed high-speed rocket-based system that would take off with passengers in one point, arrive at a low-earth orbit, and come back safely to earth at its landing place.
Where is SpaceX going
On May 30, 2020, SpaceX made history by delivering NASA astronaut Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken off to space upon its Crew Dragon spacecraft through a Falcon 9 rocket. The launch was named Demo-2, and upon completion, the launch vehicle would ultimately be certified for functional use for daily transportation of people to space.
On August 2nd, 2020, aboard the platform’s SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, both the men safely landed back on the Earth.
SpaceX has several new missions in its pipeline, many of which are already underway and some which are all set to get started.
One such mission was introduced at the start of February 2021, when the platform stated its endeavor of launching its first mission to deliver an all-civilian crew to space with members of the public being invited to submit a drawing to win one of the seats on the spacecraft.
SpaceX’s 22nd contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station, which is scheduled to take place on June 3, 2021, will deliver more than 7,300 pounds of science, research, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware, including new solar arrays, to the orbital laboratory and its crew. The rocket will also be taking 5,000 water bears and 128 glowing baby squids to the International Space Station.
As reported by Business Insider, the platform has also been chosen by NASA for providing launch services for an astrophysics mission of surveying the sky in the near-infrared light. The two-year mission is termed as SPHEREx, the short form for Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer.
These are just a handful of the plans SpaceX has been steering towards. The company still has a long way to go for reaching its ultimate goal of creating a life on Mars.
SpaceX has recently raised around $1.16 billion in equity financing in the month of March and April 2021.
Prior to this, Elon Musk's SpaceX reportedly completed an equity funding round of $850 million, in the month of February.
In its funding round that took place on August 18, 2020. SpaceX raised $1.9 billion in fresh funding, Around seventy-five investors contributed to this funding round, making the total funding raised by the company to be $46 billion. This ranked SpaceX to emerge among one of the most valuable venture-backed U.S. companies.
The total valuation of the company is $74 billion so far according to a Bloomberg report published in Feb 2021.
From the time of its inception, the goal of SpaceX has been to reach Mars yet the platform has also been engaged in projects unrelated to space. Not being publicly traded, Musk doesn’t intend to make the platform public till it accomplishes its Mars ambitions. He aims to launch a SpaceX rocket off to Mars, containing only cargo by 2022.
He has also discussed sending a million people to Mars by 2050. It remains to be seen how the platform achieves its ambitious goals.