The 20 most memorable SpaceX missions in images

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(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

Falcon 1 reaches orbit, Sept. 28, 2008

SpaceX’s first rocket, the 69-foot-tall (21 meters) Falcon 1, failed to succeed in orbit on its first three makes an attempt, which occurred in March 2006, March 2007 and August 2008. However the fourth strive was a allure. A Falcon 1 soared successfully on Sept. 28, 2008, carrying a dummy payload to orbit — and sure saving the younger firm within the course of. Musk has stated that SpaceX would most likely have folded had that fourth flight not succeeded.

Associated: The evolution of SpaceX’s rockets in pictures

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the company's Dragon cargo capsule on a demonstration mission to the International Space Station on May 22, 2012.

(Picture credit score: NASA TV)

Dragon visits the house station, Might 2012

A Falcon 9 launched a Dragon towards the Worldwide House Station (ISS) on Might 22, 2012 on one other COTS take a look at mission. 

Two days later, the cargo car berthed with the orbiting lab for the first time ever, notching an enormous milestone for SpaceX and NASA. Dragon stayed aloft for greater than per week, coming right down to Earth with a Pacific Ocean splashdown on Might 31.

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The upgraded Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a successful demonstration mission to deliver the CASSIOPE satellite to orbit. Launch took place on Sept. 29, 2013.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

A extra highly effective Falcon 9 lifts off, Sept. 29, 2013

The primary 5 Falcon 9 missions used the unique variant of the rocket, often called model 1.0. On Sept. 29, 2013, SpaceX debuted the larger, extra highly effective Falcon 9 model 1.1, which efficiently launched the Cascade, Smallsat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer (CASSIOPE) satellite tv for pc to orbit. 

Throughout the CASSIOPE launch, SpaceX additionally introduced the Falcon 9’s first stage again with a managed reentry by Earth’s environment, an enormous step towards eventual restoration and reuse. (The booster did not survive this journey intact, finally hitting the ocean onerous.) 

Launch Images: SpaceX’s Next-Gen Falcon 9 Rocket Soars on 1st Flight

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches into space from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Feb. 11, 2015 on a mission to send the Deep Space Climate Observatory on a million-mile trek to Lagrange point 1.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

First launch into interplanetary house, Feb. 11, 2015

On Feb. 11, 2015, a Falcon 9 delivered the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) to a particularly elliptical orbit that took the spacecraft 770,000 miles (1.24 million km) from Earth at its farthest level — greater than 3 times larger than the Earth-moon distance. It was the primary time SpaceX had ventured into such deep house. DSCOVR, which is operated by the U.S. Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, finally arrange store on the Earth-sun Lagrange Level 1, about 930,000 miles (1.5 million km) from our planet.

In early 2022, by the way in which, experiences surfaced that the Falcon 9 higher stage from the DSCOVR mission was headed for the moon, with an influence anticipated on March 4. Additional analyses revealed, nevertheless, that the moon-smacking rocket stage was really a piece of the Long March 3C vehicle that launched China’s Chang’e 5-T1 mission in October 2014.

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The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is seen just before touching down on Landing Site 1 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 21, 2015.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

First rocket touchdown success, Dec. 21, 2015

SpaceX’s new, much more highly effective “Full Thrust” Falcon 9 variant made its spaceflight debut on Dec. 21, 2015, launching 11 satellites to orbit for the communications firm Orbcomm. 

However this mission is healthier remembered for an additional first: SpaceX’s first-ever successful rocket landing. The Falcon 9’s first stage got here again to Earth as deliberate, acing a vertical landing at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Power Station (now Cape Canaveral House Power Station). 

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket first stage is seen descending toward its drone ship landing pad in the Atlantic Ocean in this view from a chase plane captured on April 8, 2016.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

First droneship touchdown, April 8, 2016

One other massive touchdown landmark got here on April 8, 2016. After launching Dragon on a cargo run to the Worldwide House Station from Florida’s House Coast, a Falcon 9 first stage aced a landing on Of Course I Still Love You, a robotic “droneship” stationed a number of hundred miles offshore, within the Atlantic Ocean. 

SpaceX now generally employs droneship touchdowns on missions during which the primary stage does not have sufficient gasoline left to make all of it the way in which again to terra firma.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a used first stage launches the SES-10 communications satellite from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 30, 2017.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

First launch with a used booster, March 30, 2017

SpaceX flew a used Falcon 9 first stage for the first time on March 30, 2017, throughout the launch of the SES-10 communications satellite tv for pc. 

The corporate notched one other reusability milestone on this mission as properly, recovering each halves of the payload fairing — the protecting “nostril cone” that surrounds payloads throughout launch — intact after a delicate ocean splashdown.

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This view of the NROL-76 spy satellite shows SpaceX's horizontal integration facility (foreground) as the Falcon 9 launches into space from Pad 39-A at NASA's Kennedy Space Flight Center on May 1, 2017.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

First launch for the US army, Might 1, 2017

A Falcon 9 rocket lofted the NROL-76 satellite for the U.S. Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace on Might 1, 2017. 

It was the primary SpaceX mission for the U.S. Division of Protection, a vital buyer that the corporate had sought to service for a very long time. 

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SpaceX's Starman mannequin sits inside Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster with Earth in the background, shortly after the initial launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket on Feb. 6, 2018.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

Falcon Heavy debuts, Feb. 6, 2018

The first launch of SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy rocket — which consists of three strapped-together Falcon 9 first phases, with a second stage and the payload atop the central core — was memorable, to say the least. The take a look at flight, which lifted off on Feb. 6, 2018, carried a spacesuit-clad model named Starman who was “driving” Musk’s purple Tesla Roadster. Automotive and driver had been efficiently delivered to a heliocentric orbit, and we obtained some wonderful views of the duo leaving their residence planet within the rear view mirror. (Starman and his journey will seemingly slam into either Venus or Earth within the subsequent few tens of tens of millions of years, researchers have calculated.)

Two of the three first-stage boosters got here again to Earth for profitable touchdowns at Cape Canaveral shortly after liftoff that day. The central core did not handle to ace its droneship touchdown, nevertheless.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 launches NASA's TESS mission in April 2018. That launch was one of several that may have used hardware produced by a supplier that forged inspection reports.

(Picture credit score: Tony Grey/NASA KSC)

Lofting a NASA exoplanet hunter, April 18, 2018

The Falcon 9 launch of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in April 2018 was notable for a number of causes.

It was the primary SpaceX mission to loft a science satellite tv for pc not dedicated to Earth statement, for instance, and it despatched the TESS spacecraft fairly far afield — all the way in which out to a lunar switch orbit. (TESS orbits Earth on a extremely elliptical path that takes it practically as far out because the moon at its most distant level.)

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SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off carrying the Arabsat-6A communications satellite on April 11, 2019.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

Falcon Heavy aces three landings, April 11, 2019

Falcon Heavy’s second launch, which occurred on April 11, 2019, was its first operational flight, delivering the Arabsat-6A communications satellite to orbit

And this time, SpaceX efficiently landed all three of the massive rocket’s first phases shortly after liftoff. (The central core got here unmoored from its droneship fastenings on the way in which again to shore, nevertheless, and ended up being misplaced.)

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SpaceX's Starhopper Starship prototype makes its first untethered flight at the company's Boca Chica test site in South Texas on July 25, 2019 in this still from a drone camera.

(Picture credit score: Elon Musk/SpaceX by way of Twitter)

Starhopper makes its first soar, July 25, 2019

SpaceX goals to get humanity to the moon, Mars and past with an enormous, totally reusable rocket-spaceship duo referred to as Starship

On July 25, 2019, the Starship program spread its wings for the first time, sending a tiny, single-engine prototype dubbed Starhopper about 65 toes (20 meters) above the bottom at SpaceX’s South Texas take a look at website. SpaceX has constructed upon this primary free-flying take a look at hop significantly, as we will see.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, on May 30, 2020, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

(Picture credit score: Invoice Ingalls/NASA)

SpaceX launches astronauts for the primary time, Might 30, 2020

After NASA retired its house shuttle fleet in July 2011, the US was incapable of launching astronauts to orbit for practically 9 years. That lengthy drought — and the entire dependence on Russian Soyuz spacecraft that got here with it — ended on Might 30, 2020, when SpaceX launched the historic Demo-2 test flight.

Demo-2 despatched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the Worldwide House Station aboard a Crew Dragon capsule, which lifted off atop a Falcon 9. The 2-month mission went easily, clearing SpaceX to start out operational crewed missions to the orbiting lab for NASA.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi onboard, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

(Picture credit score: Joel Kowsky/NASA)

First operational crewed mission for NASA, Nov. 15, 2020

The primary of these contracted flights, often called Crew-1, lifted off on Nov. 15, 2020, sending NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi to the house station for a six-month keep. 

Every part went swimmingly from launch to splashdown, cementing SpaceX’s function as a serious participant within the human spaceflight discipline.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 143 small satellites into orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Jan. 24, 2021 to mark the Transporter-1 rideshare mission.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

Transporter-1 mission launches document 143 satellites, Jan. 24, 2021

A Falcon 9 launched the Transporter-1 mission on Jan. 24, 2021, lofting 143 small satellites for quite a lot of prospects. 

It was SpaceX’s first-ever mission devoted solely to small “rideshare” satellites, and it set a brand new document for many spacecraft despatched to orbit without delay.

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SpaceX's Starship SN15 rocket prototype launches on a 10-kilometer test flight from SpaceX's Starbase test site near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on May 5, 2021.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

Starship prototype sticks the touchdown, Might 5, 2021

SpaceX moved on rapidly from Starhopper, sending a sequence of three-engine Starship prototypes aloft on take a look at flights that obtained about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) above Earth’s floor. None of them managed to stay the touchdown, nevertheless, till SN15 (“Serial No. 15”) pulled it off on May 5, 2021

This was an enormous second for the Starship program, which is now gearing up for its first-ever orbital take a look at flight, a milestone that SpaceX goals to realize quickly after it will get regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 60 Starlink satellites to orbit on May 9, 2021. It was the 10th flight for this Falcon 9's first stage.

(Picture credit score: SpaceX)

A Falcon 9 first stage flies for the tenth time, Might 9, 2021

Simply 4 days after SN15’s success, SpaceX hit an enormous reusability milestone: A Falcon 9 first stage flew for a record 10th time on Might 9, 2021, on a mission that despatched 60 of SpaceX’s Starlink web satellites to orbit. 

That document has since been damaged; two totally different Falcon 9 first phases now have 11 missions below their belt.

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Inspiration4 lifted off successfully on Sept. 15.

(Picture credit score: Inspiration4/John Kraus)

Inspiration4 sends 4 personal residents to orbit, September 2021

SpaceX made historical past once more in September 2021 with Inspiration4, the primary all-private crewed mission to Earth orbit. On this flight, billionaire tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and three different personal residents circled Earth for practically three days inside a Crew Dragon capsule. 

And SpaceX has extra orbital tourism missions on the books. Houston-based firm Axiom House, for instance, has contracted with SpaceX on a handful of personal crewed missions to the house station. The primary of those flights, Ax-1, is scheduled to launch on March 30.

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