Privatization of space research and space travel was inevitable. An area largely controlled by government agencies like NASA or ISRO, space craft and space research is now open to many private players. Commercial space activities are on the rise since launce of telecom and media satellites into space. SpaceX is one such company which designs and manufactures space vehicles. It also launches and conducts space exploration sorties.
SpaceX or Space Explorations Technologies Corporation was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk. The sole purpose was to reduce the costs of sending space missions and to colonize Mars. Since its inception, SpaceX has produced many launch vehicles and spacecraft.
In 2006, SpaceX bagged a contract from NASA to re-supply International Space Station (ISS) with cargo. SpaceX did several test flights from 2010 and by 2012 managed to complete the first mission of sending cargo to ISS via its vehicle, Dragon. SpaceX soon got more such contracts. By 2014, it had conducted four sorties to ISS with cargo.
SpaceX was also awarded a contract to develop the technology to send commercial crew to ISS. Currently, SpaceX plans to conduct its first manned vehicle flight in November 2017. In 2018, SpaceX plans to send human crew to ISS aboard the revamped Dragon.
SpaceX has made steady in-roads to new technology, esp. reusable vehicles launch technology. The first stage of the discarded rocket, Falcon 9 is returned to the launchpad via its own propulsion system. Falcon 9 was designed to transport the cargo spacecraft Dragon and various satellites into space. It has been termed as a reusable launcher.
SpaceX focus is on reusability of the launcher. Their aim is to develop this technology to the extent where the Falcon 9 is similar to a vehicle on the streets. The idea is to reuse the same rocket within twenty four hours to launch another load of cargo and satellites. Thus, the latest launch of FalconX is considered as historic because it is the first instance of a rocket launcher being used and then returned to be reused. SpaceX confirmed that they want to reach a stage where the rocket launcher is so user friendly, that the only thing they need to reload is the propellant. In short, its entire body will be intact with no modifications required.
SpaceX envisions that with only refuelling, the Falcon would be good for at least ten flights. With a few more modifications, the same rocket launcher can be used for as many as one hundred flights.