Most interesting facts about SpaceX rockets

SpaceX is a recognized leader in commercial space exploration. It launches satellites, cargo and manned spacecraft. But the basis of its activities are launch vehicles, each of which is unique in some way.


1. SpaceX has been building rockets for 21 years

SpaceX is not the first private company to try to launch its rocket into space. But it is the first one that has managed to create a successful business on this. Elon Musk founded it when he realized that building his own carriers was a more reliable investment than buying them from unstable suppliers such as Russia. 

It happened in 2002, so 21 years ago. Since then, the company has come a long way from a very small Falcon 1 rocket to the biggest carrier in history – the Falcon Super Heavy with the Starship spacecraft. The total number of launches carried out by it is approaching 250. Such results have not been achieved by most of the countries considered to be space.

2. Falcon 1 flew into space only 5 times

SpaceX’s first rocket was called the Falcon 1. It included two stages, each of which had one Merlin engine. The rocket could launch half a ton of payload into low Earth orbit.

Falcon 1 began to be developed back in 2002, and Musk promised that it would be launched in November 2003, i.e. in 15 months. However, the first launch took place only in March 2006 and ended with the destruction of the carrier, as well as the two subsequent ones. Only in 2008, everything went according to plan, and SpaceX became the first commercial company to put cargo into orbit. In total, only 5 Falcon 1 launches took place — three emergency and two successful.

3. Falcon 9 is the most massive commercial rocket

Falcon 9 is the second rocket created by SpaceX. Its development was announced back in 2005 — before the previous version of the carrier was launched for the first time. It made its first flight in June 2010. The total number of its launches at the moment is 226; 224 of them were successful.

This makes the Falcon 9 not only the most massive commercial rocket in the world, but also one of the most reliable carriers in general. Its latest versions are capable of putting 22,800 kg of payload into low Earth orbit, and the first stage can make a controlled landing and then be reused.

4. Is Falcon Heavy the biggest rocket in the world?

In 2011, Elon Musk said that the elements of the Falcon 9 rocket, the operation of which had just begun, could be used to create a new superheavy rocket. Later it was named Falcon Heavy, and its first launch took place in 2018.

With an altitude of 70 m and a launch mass of 1,420 tons, the Falcon Heavy is not the biggest rocket created by humans. The Soviet H1, the American Saturn V, Space Shuttle and SLS surpass it. However, the first three of them were decommissioned long ago. And the lunar rocket flew only once; and it is not yet known when it will fly again. 

5. Starship/Super Heavy — the biggest space system of the future

On April 20, 2023, SpaceX tested the most powerful carrier in history. It includes the Starship spacecraft and its giant first stage, called Super Heavy. Together they have a height of 120 m.

The test flight ended with an explosion even before the stages separated, but it was believed that the rocket still took off. When this carrier is put in order, it will be able to put up to 250 tons of payload into low Earth orbit, which is 500 times more than the Falcon 1 could deliver there.

SpaceX rockets

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