Musk was long convinced that for life to survive, humanity has to become a multiplanet species. However, he was dissatisfied with the great expense of rocket launchers.
In 2002 he founded Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to make more affordable rockets.
Its first two rockets were the Falcon 1 (first launched in 2006) and the larger Falcon 9 (first launched in 2010), which were designed to cost much less than competing rockets. A third rocket, the Falcon Heavy (first launched in 2018), was designed to carry 117,000 pounds (53,000 kg) to orbit, nearly twice as much as its largest competitor, the Boeing Company’s Delta IV Heavy, for one-third the cost.
SpaceX also developed the Dragon spacecraft, which carries supplies to the International Space Station and is designed to carry as many as seven astronauts. Musk sought to reduce the expense of spaceflight by developing a fully reusable rocket that could lift off and return to the pad it launched from.
Beginning in 2012, SpaceX’s Grasshopper rocket made several short flights to test such technology. In addition to being CEO of SpaceX, Musk was also chief designer in building the Falcon rockets, Dragon, and Grasshopper.