Skip to main content

SpaceX birthday video celebrates its first 20 years

SpaceX has shared a highlights video celebrating its 20th birthday. The footage features key moments from its first two decades of operations, and as you’ll see, it’s been a wild ride.

Today we celebrate the founding of SpaceX and 20 years of accomplishments by this incredible team—here’s to creating a future that we can all get excited about

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 14, 2022

Founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on March 14, 2002, the privately funded spaceflight company achieved its first orbital launch with the Falcon 1 rocket six years later in 2008.

Since then, the milestone missions have been coming thick and fast, with standout breakthroughs that include the first spaceflight team to launch and land a first-stage booster — a maneuver that seemed impossible until SpaceX actually did it.

Figuring out a way to land a booster was key to SpaceX’s goal of creating a reusable rocket system to dramatically cut the cost of space travel. After several failed landing attempts where its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket toppled over and exploded shortly after returning to Earth, SpaceX nailed its first booster landing in October 2015. Since then, it’s pretty much perfected the maneuver, allowing the company to refurbish Falcon 9 boosters for repeated use.

Besides deploying small satellites for various companies and organizations, California-based SpaceX has also become a major NASA partner for flights to and from the International Space Station (ISS). It started off with cargo deliveries using its Dragon spacecraft before progressing to astronaut flights using the Crew Dragon.

The first crewed flight to the ISS took place in 2020, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken traveling to and from the orbital outpost aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft. The historic flight also returned crewed missions to U.S. territory for the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.

Since SpaceX’s first crewed flight, NASA has used the Crew Dragon for multiple crewed missions to the ISS, with the fourth operational flight carrying four astronauts currently slated for next month.

SpaceX surely has the accolade of “oddest payload sent to space,” too, after it blasted the “Starman” mannequin and a Tesla Roadster into orbit in a test flight for its powerful Falcon Heavy rocket in 2018.

Silly payloads aside, Musk still has some serious ambitions for SpaceX, with the company currently prepping the first orbital test flight of its next-generation Starship vehicle that in the coming years will carry crews to the moon, and possibly Mars, too. Musk has often spoken about his dream to one day build a self-sustaining city on Mars to guarantee humanity’s survival in the event of a catastrophe on Earth, and it’s not a plan he seems likely to give up on anytime soon.

Closer to home, SpaceX recently launched the first all-civilian orbital flight, sending four amateur astronauts on a three-day trip around Earth using its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, with the effort paving the way for a potential space tourism business.

It also launched its Starlink internet-from-space initiative that uses a growing constellation of small satellites to provide broadband connectivity for earthlings, with unserved and underserved communities the company’s main target.

Few will contest the idea that SpaceX has surpassed expectations (and then some) over the last two decades, with enthusiastic observers excited to see what the team is able to achieve over the next 20 years.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
SpaceX needs good weather for Starship launch. Here’s how it’s looking
SpaceX's Starship on the launchpad.

SpaceX is making final preparations to send the Starship to orbit on in what will be only the second test flight of the 400-foot-tall rocket.

The company had originally hoped to launch on Friday but has had to carry out some extra work that's caused a 24-hour delay.

Read more
SpaceX given green light to send mighty Starship rocket skyward
A Super Heavy booster on the launchpad at SpaceX's site in Texas.

A Super Heavy booster on the launchpad at SpaceX's site in Texas. SpaceX / SpaceX

SpaceX has been given the green light to send its Super Heavy rocket and Starship spacecraft skyward in what will be only the second test launch of the world's most powerful spaceflight system.

Read more
How to watch SpaceX launch world’s most powerful rocket on Saturday
The Starship, comprising the first-stage Super Heavy and the upper-stage Starship spacecraft, on the launchpad at SpaceX's facility in Boca Chica, Texas.


UPDATE: SpaceX has called off Friday's launch of the Starship and is now targeting Saturday. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a social media post that engineers need to replace a grid fin actuator on the first-stage Super Heavy booster, a part which helps to steer the vehicle back to Earth. This article has been updated with the new launch schedule.

Read more