Elon Musk Is Getting SpaceX Closer to Mars, One Rocket at a Time

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SpaceX is about to launch its 40th Falcon 9 mission and 11th rocket this year. The rapid cadence of late is worlds ahead of where the company was seven years ago, when billionaire founder Elon Musk began firing off Falcon 9s at a pace of just two a year. As launches become more routine, SpaceX is gearing up for its next major hurdle: the maiden flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket, now scheduled for November. Bloomberg has been tracking the milestones—and occasional mishaps—along the way to SpaceX’s ultimate goal: sending humans to Mars.

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SpaceX Launches Plot

TK

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SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, by type

Intl. Space Station resupply

Attempted booster recovery

Note: Excludes early SpaceX Falcon 1

missions conducted from 2006 to 2009.

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, by mission type

Intl. Space Station resupply

Attempted booster recovery

Note: Excludes early SpaceX Falcon 1 missions conducted from 2006 to 2009.

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, by mission type

Intl. Space Station resupply

Attempted booster recovery

Note: Excludes early SpaceX Falcon 1 missions conducted from 2006 to 2009.

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, by mission type

Attempted booster recovery

Intl. Space Station resupply

Note: Excludes early SpaceX Falcon 1 missions conducted from 2006 to 2009.

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Source: TK GIVE THIS 28px TOP MARGIN AND 13px/15px

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Elon Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp. in 2002 to “revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” Eight years later, SpaceX introduced the


Falcon


9

, a two-stage rocket designed for reusability. The rocket can carry commercial payloads as well as the SpaceX-made


Dragon


capsule

, a recyclable spacecraft that has been ferrying supplies to the


International Space


Station

since 2012.

SpaceX began launching


commercial


satellites

in 2013—to both


low-earth


orbit

, the first 100 to 1,200 miles of space, and


geostationary transfer


orbit

, about 22,000 miles above the earth. The company has since sent a satellite into


deep


space

and hit key milestones toward its goal of reducing launch costs by reusing capsules and rockets. Early


attempts to recover


boosters

at sea ended in


explosions

. Subsequent recovery missions, however, have been successful, both at


sea

and on


land

.

This year alone, SpaceX has successfully relaunched a


recycled Falcon


9

, sent a


used Dragon


capsule

back to the space station, deployed a


confidential


payload

for the U.S. military and now is preparing for the next major step—test flying its new rocket, dubbed the


Falcon


Heavy

.

Below, see every Falcon 9 launch to date and other major achievements along the way.

Customer: NASAPayload: Test version of the Dragon capsuleFalcon 9 Inaugural Test Flight#1: June 4, 2010Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon capsuleNASA COTS Demo Flight 1#2: Dec. 8, 2010Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 1,014 lbs. of noncritical supplies for the ISSNASA COTS Demo Flight 2+#3: April 22, 2012Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 1,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-1 (Commercial Resupply Services)#4: Oct. 8, 2012Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 1,200 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-2#5: March 1, 2013Customer: MDA Corp.Payload: Cassiope and other satellitesCASSIOPE#6: Sept. 29, 2013Customer: SESPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteSES-8#7: Dec. 3, 2013Customer: ThaicomPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteThaicom-6#8: Jan. 6, 2014Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 5,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-3#9: April 18, 2014Customer: OrbcommPayload: Commercial telecommunications satellitesOrbcomm-1#10: July 14, 2014Customer: AsiaSatPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteAsiaSat-8#11: Aug. 5, 2014Customer: AsiaSatPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteAsiaSat-6#12: Sept. 7, 2014Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 5,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-4#13: Sept. 21, 2014Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 5,200 lbs. of supplies, including fruit flies and an IMAX cameraCRS-5#14: Jan. 10, 2015Customers: NASA, NOAA, U.S. Air ForcePayload: Deep Space Climate Observatory satelliteDSCOVR#15: Feb. 11, 2015Customer: ABS and EutelsatPayload: Pair of commercial telecommunications satellitesABS/Eutelsat-1#16: March 2, 2015Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 4,300 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-6#17: April 14, 2015Customer: Thales Alenia SpacePayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteThales Mission#18: April 27, 2015Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 4,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-7#19: June 28, 2015Customer: OrbcommPayload: 11 commercial telecommunications satellitesOrbcomm-2#20: Dec. 21, 2015Customer: NASA, NOAA, CNES, EUMETSAT Payload: Satellite that measures ocean surface heightJason-3#21: Jan. 17, 2016Customer: SESPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteSES-9#22: March 4, 2016Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 7,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-8#23: April 8, 2016Customer: SKY Perfect JSAT Corp.Payload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteJCSAT-14#24: May 6, 2016Customer: ThaicomPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteThaicom-8#25: May 27, 2016Customer:ABS and EutelsatPayload:Pair of commercial telecommunications satellitesEutelsat/ABS Mission#26: June 15, 2016Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 5,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-9#27: July 18, 2016Customer: SKY Perfect JSAT Corp.Payload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteJCSAT-16#28: Aug. 14, 2016Customer: SpacecomPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteAMOS-6#29: Sept. 1, 2016Customer: IridiumPayload: 10 communications satellitesIridium-1#30: Jan. 14, 2017Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 5,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-10#31: Feb. 19, 2017Customer: EchoStar Corp.Payload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteEchoStar XXIII#32: March 16, 2017Customer: SESPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteSES-10#33: March 30, 2017Customer: U.S.National Reconnaissance OfficePayload: Classified payloadNROL-76#34: May 1, 2017Customer: InmarsatPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteInmarsat-5 Flight 4#35: May 15, 2017Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with 6,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-11#36: June 3, 2017Customer: BulgariaSatPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteBulgariaSat-1#37: June 23, 2017Customer: IridiumPayload: 10 commercial telecommunications satellitesIridium-2 NEXT#38: June 25, 2017Customer: IntelsatPayload: Commercial telecommunications satelliteIntelsat 35e#39: July 1, 2017Customer: NASAPayload: Dragon with over 6,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISSCRS-12#40: Aug. 14, 2017First use of a previously flown Dragon capsuleFirst classified mission for the U.S. Defense DepartmentFirst use of a previously flown boosterFirst launch from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center as damaged Cape Canaveral pad under repairFalcon 9 explodes during a preflight test, destroying payload and heavily damaging the Cape Canaveral launch padFirst successful booster landing on drone shipSecond-stage booster successfully lands for the first timeRocket explodes shortly after launch, destroying entire payload, including 30 student research projects First mission to deep spaceFirst attempt at landing a booster on a drone ship ends in an explosionPayload included 20 rodents to use in experiments aboard the ISSFirst Falcon 9 launch to geostationary transfer orbitFirst flight of upgraded Falcon 9 rocket and launch from Vandenberg Air Force BaseFirst commercial ISS resupply missionDemonstrated ability to berth Dragon to the ISSFirst flight of fully functioning Dragon spacecraftFirst flight of Falcon 9 two-stage rocket

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