How SpaceX's rockets evolved over the last 20 years

The famed Falcon 9 rockets were initially supposed to be refurbished Dnepr rockets.
Loukia Papadopoulos

SpaceX today makes some of the world's most famous and most used rockets. But their development was a long time coming.

SpaceX's journey began more than 20 years ago in 2001. At that time, Elon Musk, the firm’s founder, began developing plans for the Mars Oasis project – a research project that aimed to land a small, experimental greenhouse on Martian soil.

At first, Musk did not plan on using the famed Falcon 9 rockets focusing instead on refurbished Dnepr rockets. It took a trip to Moscow where the billionaire inspected the rockets himself for him to conclude that these repurposed ICBM missiles would be far too costly.

That's when he decided to design and manufacture the rockets himself and SpaceX was born. The first rocket the firm worked on was the Falcon 1, a two-stage-to-orbit rocket. This first rocket was completed in 2006 but it witnessed three failed launch attempts. It only managed to enter orbit on its fourth try two years later in 2008.

How much did this project cost? What were the next steps in SpaceX's long and complex history? How did we come to the Falcon 9 designs? This video answers all these questions and more.

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