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SpaceX at 50 – From taming Falcon 1 to achieving cadence in Falcon 9

20 Dec 2017, 19:39 UTC
SpaceX at 50 – From taming Falcon 1 to achieving cadence in Falcon 9
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With last Friday’s successful launch of CRS-13, SpaceX marked its fiftieth orbital launch. The milestone comes less than twelve years after the company’s first, unsuccessful, mission lifted off in March 2006, in which time SpaceX has gone from another hopeful startup to one of the biggest players in the global launch industry.
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation was founded by Elon Musk in May 2002 with the goals of reducing the cost of access to space, improving reliability and eventually helping to place humans on Mars. Musk had previously founded software company Zip2 and online payment service PayPal. Musk had been involved in a project to send plant life to Mars. However, he was forced to abandon this when he was unable to find an affordable launch solution.
SpaceX initially envisioned a fleet of three differently-sized rockets: the smallest and simplest was the Falcon 1, with larger Falcon 5 and Falcon 9 vehicles being introduced later to accommodate heavier payloads. To keep costs down, most major components of the rockets would be built by SpaceX themselves. Falcon was named after the Millennium Falcon ship in the Star Wars films, with the numbers 1, 5 and 9 denoting the number of first-stage ...

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