SpaceX (or Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) is an American company working in the field of astronautics and spaceflight. Founded on May 6, 2002 by the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk (at that time only millionaire), it is one of two private contractors to whom NASA has awarded a freight contract to the International Space Station. (ISS) as part of the COTS program.
SpaceX, which employs more than 7,000 people (November 2017) primarily in California, also has two launch facilities on the base of Cape Canaveral (pads SLC-40 and 39A), one at Vandenberg Air Force Base (the pad SLC-4E) and another is under construction in South Texas at Boca Chica. SpaceX also has a test bench for its engines in Texas.
The Dragon Space Cargo launched by a Falcon 9 rocket is part of the International Space Station’s refueling program.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says one of his goals was to reduce costs and improve the reliability of access to space by a factor of ten. The company declared in 2004 to want to develop a heavy or even super-heavy transport system, if customer demand followed knowing that with each increase of size results a significant decrease of the cost per kilogram in orbit. Elon Musk said, “I think $ 500 per pound ($ 1,100 / kg) or less is very achievable.”
SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, who became a multimillionaire by reselling PayPal. The objective of Elon Musk is to design launchers capable of greatly reducing the cost of launching into orbit and thus allow the development of civil space.
SpaceX designs, builds and markets Falcon 9 launchers, the Merlin engines that propel them, and the Dragon cargo ship and its manned version. The Falcon 1 launcher that was the first launcher of the company is no longer in service. After three failures in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the first successful Falcon 1 launcher was launched on September 28, 2008, which then put the Malaysian observation satellite RazakSAT into orbit on its fifth flight on July 13, 2009.
As a result of the planned US space shuttle withdrawal, NASA is bidding for the transportation of part of the cargo and crew to the International Space Station, which can not be supported by existing vessels . SpaceX’s offer to develop the medium Falcon 9 launcher and the SpaceX Dragon space cargo ship is being used alongside that of Orbital Sciences for freight transport.