Space

Fire and fury: A pictorial history of SpaceX's spectacular launches and landings

Fire and fury: A pictorial his...
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the Inmarsat-5 Mission in May 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the Inmarsat-5 Mission in May 2017
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The Falcon 1 lifts off in 2008, on its way to becoming the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to reach  Earth orbit
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The Falcon 1 lifts off in 2008, on its way to becoming the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to reach  Earth orbit
The Falcon 1 on its way to deliver a commercial satellite to Earth orbit, the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to do so
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The Falcon 1 on its way to deliver a commercial satellite to Earth orbit, the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to do so
The Falcon 1 on its way to deliver the RazakSAT satellite to Earth orbit, which would provide high-res images of Malaysia to help land management and conservation
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The Falcon 1 on its way to deliver the RazakSAT satellite to Earth orbit, which would provide high-res images of Malaysia to help land management and conservation
The Falcon 1 on its way to deliver a commercial satellite to Earth orbit, the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to do so
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The Falcon 1 on its way to deliver a commercial satellite to Earth orbit, the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to do so
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Cape Canaveral. The craft parachuted down to Earth around three hours later as the first private spacecraft to be retrieved from low-earth orbit
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Cape Canaveral. The craft parachuted down to Earth around three hours later as the first private spacecraft to be retrieved from low-earth orbit
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is retrieved from the Pacific Ocean in 2010, the first private spacecraft to be recovered from low-Earth orbit
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SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is retrieved from the Pacific Ocean in 2010, the first private spacecraft to be recovered from low-Earth orbit
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off as part of a mission that would see Dragon become the first private spacecraft to be retrieved from low-earth orbit
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off as part of a mission that would see Dragon become the first private spacecraft to be retrieved from low-earth orbit
The SpaceX Grasshopper vehicle takes off on its way to a 40m altitude as part of a 2012 test flight. Grasshopper was the company's first dedicated program to developing reusable rockets
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The SpaceX Grasshopper vehicle takes off on its way to a 40m altitude as part of a 2012 test flight. Grasshopper was the company's first dedicated program to developing reusable rockets
SpaceX's Dragon capsule docks at the International Space Station, the first private spacecraft to visit the orbiting laboratory
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SpaceX's Dragon capsule docks at the International Space Station, the first private spacecraft to visit the orbiting laboratory
SpaceX's Dragon capsule is held by an International Space Station manipulator arm on its first visit to the station in 2012. Dragon was the first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station
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SpaceX's Dragon capsule is held by an International Space Station manipulator arm on its first visit to the station in 2012. Dragon was the first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket ahead of its first successful attempt at placing a payload into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit in 2013
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket ahead of its first successful attempt at placing a payload into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit in 2013
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches a payload into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit for the first time in 2013, its third attempt at doing so
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches a payload into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit for the first time in 2013, its third attempt at doing so
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off on its first successful attempt at placing a payload into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit in 2013
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off on its first successful attempt at placing a payload into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit in 2013
In April 2014, SpaceX landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket booster on a barge in the ocean. It was destroyed by heavy seas soon after
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In April 2014, SpaceX landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket booster on a barge in the ocean. It was destroyed by heavy seas soon after
SpaceX's Falcon 9 made history's first controlled landing of an orbital space rocket in December 2015
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 made history's first controlled landing of an orbital space rocket in December 2015
The Falcon 9 first stage stands loud and proud following its historic first landing in December 2015
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The Falcon 9 first stage stands loud and proud following its historic first landing in December 2015
The Falcon 9 first stage in the hangar following its historic first landing in December 2015
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The Falcon 9 first stage in the hangar following its historic first landing in December 2015
SpaceX's Falcon 9 made history's first controlled landing of an orbital space rocket in December 2015
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 made history's first controlled landing of an orbital space rocket in December 2015
Launch and re-entry burns as SpaceX's Falcon 9 made history's first controlled landing of an orbital space rocket in December 2015
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Launch and re-entry burns as SpaceX's Falcon 9 made history's first controlled landing of an orbital space rocket in December 2015
The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 safe and sound on a barge ship in the ocean in April 2016 following its first successful landing at sea
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The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 safe and sound on a barge ship in the ocean in April 2016 following its first successful landing at sea
The Falcon 9 lifts off in December 2015 as part of SpaceX's CRS-8 mission, in which the rocket's first stage would make a historic landing back on Earth
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The Falcon 9 lifts off in December 2015 as part of SpaceX's CRS-8 mission, in which the rocket's first stage would make a historic landing back on Earth
The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket prepares to land on a barge ship in the ocean for the first time in April 2016
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The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket prepares to land on a barge ship in the ocean for the first time in April 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off in April 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off in April 2016
The Falcon 9 lifts off in April 2016 as part of SpaceX's CRS-8 mission, in which the rocket's first stage would make a historic landing on a barge ship in the ocean
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The Falcon 9 lifts off in April 2016 as part of SpaceX's CRS-8 mission, in which the rocket's first stage would make a historic landing on a barge ship in the ocean
The Falcon 9 first stage touches down safely at sea for the first time in April 2016
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The Falcon 9 first stage touches down safely at sea for the first time in April 2016
The Falcon 9 first stage touches down on the barge "Of Course I Still Love You" during its historic first landing at sea in April 2016
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The Falcon 9 first stage touches down on the barge "Of Course I Still Love You" during its historic first landing at sea in April 2016
The Falcon 9 first stage touches down on the barge "Of Course I Still Love You" during its historic first landing at sea in April 2016
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The Falcon 9 first stage touches down on the barge "Of Course I Still Love You" during its historic first landing at sea in April 2016
Rendering of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy rocket lifting off
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Rendering of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy rocket lifting off
Rendering of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy rocket lifting off
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Rendering of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy rocket lifting off
Falcon 9 and JCSAT-14 satellite at Cape Canaveral ahead of lift-off in May 2016
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Falcon 9 and JCSAT-14 satellite at Cape Canaveral ahead of lift-off in May 2016
The Falcon 9 and JCSAT-14 satellite lift off from Cape Canaveral n May 2016
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The Falcon 9 and JCSAT-14 satellite lift off from Cape Canaveral n May 2016
Falcon 9 and JCSAT-14 satellite at Cape Canaveral ahead of lift-off in May 2016
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Falcon 9 and JCSAT-14 satellite at Cape Canaveral ahead of lift-off in May 2016
Recovered Falcon 9 first stage stands tall on a barge ship in May 2016
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Recovered Falcon 9 first stage stands tall on a barge ship in May 2016
Falcon 9 and JCSAT-14 satellite lift off from Cape Canaveral in May 2016
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Falcon 9 and JCSAT-14 satellite lift off from Cape Canaveral in May 2016
Recovered Falcon 9 first stage stands tall on barge ship in May 2016
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Recovered Falcon 9 first stage stands tall on barge ship in May 2016
Recovered Falcon 9 rockets in the hangar
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Recovered Falcon 9 rockets in the hangar
Closeup of recovered Falcon 9 rockets in the hangar
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Closeup of recovered Falcon 9 rockets in the hangar
Recovered Falcon 9 rockets in the hangar
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Recovered Falcon 9 rockets in the hangar
A Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral with a Thaicom satellite in May 2016
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A Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral with a Thaicom satellite in May 2016
A Falcon 9 first stage stands safe and sound after delivering a Thaicom satellite to orbit
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A Falcon 9 first stage stands safe and sound after delivering a Thaicom satellite to orbit
A Falcon 9 first stage returns to port after delivering a Thaicom satellite to orbit
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A Falcon 9 first stage returns to port after delivering a Thaicom satellite to orbit
A Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral with a Thaicom satellite in tow in May 2016
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A Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral with a Thaicom satellite in tow in May 2016
A Falcon 9 first stage comes down to land after delivering a Thaicom satellite to orbit
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A Falcon 9 first stage comes down to land after delivering a Thaicom satellite to orbit
A Falcon 9 lifts off with a Thaicom satellite in tow in May 2016
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A Falcon 9 lifts off with a Thaicom satellite in tow in May 2016
Used Merlin engines on a recovered Falcon 9  first stage
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Used Merlin engines on a recovered Falcon 9  first stage
SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral as part of the historic ORBCOMM-2 mission in December 2015
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral as part of the historic ORBCOMM-2 mission in December 2015
Sun sets behind a recovered Falcon 9 first stage at SpaceX's Landing Zone 1
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Sun sets behind a recovered Falcon 9 first stage at SpaceX's Landing Zone 1
The Falcon 9 lifts off in January 2016 on its way to deliver the Jason-3 satellite into orbit
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The Falcon 9 lifts off in January 2016 on its way to deliver the Jason-3 satellite into orbit
The Falcon 9 ahead of a January 2016 mission to deliver the Jason-3 satellite into orbit
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The Falcon 9 ahead of a January 2016 mission to deliver the Jason-3 satellite into orbit
The Falcon 9 ahead of a January 2016 mission to deliver the Jason-3 satellite into orbit
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The Falcon 9 ahead of a January 2016 mission to deliver the Jason-3 satellite into orbit
The Falcon 9 stands vertical ahead of a January 2016 mission to deliver a Jason-3 satellite into orbit
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The Falcon 9 stands vertical ahead of a January 2016 mission to deliver a Jason-3 satellite into orbit
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket takes off in April 2015
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket takes off in April 2015
SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" moves into position ahead of a rocket landing attempt in June 2015
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SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" moves into position ahead of a rocket landing attempt in June 2015
Interior of SpaceX's Dragon spaceship, which it says will one day carry astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond
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Interior of SpaceX's Dragon spaceship, which it says will one day carry astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond
Interior of SpaceX's Dragon spaceship, which it says will one day carry astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond
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Interior of SpaceX's Dragon spaceship, which it says will one day carry astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond
SpaceX's Falcon 9 ahead of launching the SES-9 communications satellite into space
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 ahead of launching the SES-9 communications satellite into space
SpaceX's Falcon 9 ahead of launching the SES-9 communications satellite into space
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 ahead of launching the SES-9 communications satellite into space
SpaceX's SES-9 mission lifts off in March 2016
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SpaceX's SES-9 mission lifts off in March 2016
Long exposure of SpaceX's Falcon 9 launching an SES-9 communications satellite into space in March 2016
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Long exposure of SpaceX's Falcon 9 launching an SES-9 communications satellite into space in March 2016
SpaceX's SES-9 mission lifts off in March 2016
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SpaceX's SES-9 mission lifts off in March 2016
SpaceX's SES-9 mission lifts off in March 2016
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SpaceX's SES-9 mission lifts off in March 2016
SpaceX's SES-9 mission lifts off in March 2016
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SpaceX's SES-9 mission lifts off in March 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage comes down to land on a drone ship in the ocean, sticking the landing for the first time in April 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage comes down to land on a drone ship in the ocean, sticking the landing for the first time in April 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands safe and sound on a drone ship in the ocean in April 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands safe and sound on a drone ship in the ocean in April 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage comes down to land on a drone ship in the ocean, sticking the landing for the first time in April 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage comes down to land on a drone ship in the ocean, sticking the landing for the first time in April 2016
SpaceX's CRS-8 mission lifts off in April 2016. That same Falcon 9 first stage would return to Earth and make history by landing on a drone ship in the ocean
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SpaceX's CRS-8 mission lifts off in April 2016. That same Falcon 9 first stage would return to Earth and make history by landing on a drone ship in the ocean
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands safe and sound on a drone ship in the ocean in April 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands safe and sound on a drone ship in the ocean in April 2016
SpaceX's CRS-8 mission lifts off in April 2016. That same Falcon 9 first stage would return to Earth and make history by landing on a drone ship in the ocean
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SpaceX's CRS-8 mission lifts off in April 2016. That same Falcon 9 first stage would return to Earth and make history by landing on a drone ship in the ocean
SpaceX's CRS-8 mission lifts off in April 2016. That same Falcon 9 first stage would return to Earth and make history by landing on a drone ship in the ocean
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SpaceX's CRS-8 mission lifts off in April 2016. That same Falcon 9 first stage would return to Earth and make history by landing on a drone ship in the ocean
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands on its drone ship in the ocean after delivering a JCSAT-14 satellite to orbit in May 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands on its drone ship in the ocean after delivering a JCSAT-14 satellite to orbit in May 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands on its drone ship in the ocean after delivering a JCSAT-14 satellite to orbit in May 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands on its drone ship in the ocean after delivering a JCSAT-14 satellite to orbit in May 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off during the Eutelsat/ABS mission in June 2016, a mission to launch two satellites into geostationary orbit
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off during the Eutelsat/ABS mission in June 2016, a mission to launch two satellites into geostationary orbit
SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off with a pair of satellites in tow in June 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off with a pair of satellites in tow in June 2016
Burn, baby burn
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Burn, baby burn
SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off with a pair of satellites in tow in June 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off with a pair of satellites in tow in June 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches in June 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches in June 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off with during the Eutelsat/ABS launch in June 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off with during the Eutelsat/ABS launch in June 2016
Burn, baby burn
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Burn, baby burn
SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off during the Eutelsat/ABS launch in June 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 takes off during the Eutelsat/ABS launch in June 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands safely on the landing pad after helping to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage stands safely on the landing pad after helping to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off as part of a mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off as part of a mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
Launch and re-entry burns from SpaceX's CRS-9 mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station
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Launch and re-entry burns from SpaceX's CRS-9 mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket ahead of the CRS-9 mission in July 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket ahead of the CRS-9 mission in July 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off as part of a mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off as part of a mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
Launch and re-entry burns from SpaceX's CRS-9 mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station
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Launch and re-entry burns from SpaceX's CRS-9 mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station
Launch and re-entry burns from SpaceX's CRS-9 mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station
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Launch and re-entry burns from SpaceX's CRS-9 mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage approaches the landing pad after helping to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage approaches the landing pad after helping to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off as part of a mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off as part of a mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in July 2016
The Falcon 9 first stage stands safely at sea following SpaceX's JCSAT-16 mission in August 2016  
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The Falcon 9 first stage stands safely at sea following SpaceX's JCSAT-16 mission in August 2016  
More spectacular launch burns, this time as the Falcon 9 took off during SpaceX's JCSAT-16 mission in August 2016
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More spectacular launch burns, this time as the Falcon 9 took off during SpaceX's JCSAT-16 mission in August 2016
The Falcon 9 launches during SpaceX's JCSAT-16 mission in August 2016
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The Falcon 9 launches during SpaceX's JCSAT-16 mission in August 2016
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage on the landing pad following a four-month hiatus, after a disastrous launch pad explosion threw its future into doubt
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage on the landing pad following a four-month hiatus, after a disastrous launch pad explosion threw its future into doubt
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage on the landing pad following a four-month hiatus, after a disastrous launch pad explosion threw its future into doubt
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage on the landing pad following a four-month hiatus, after a disastrous launch pad explosion threw its future into doubt
Close-up of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster in action
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Close-up of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster in action
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster roared back into action in January, four months after a disastrous launch pad explosion threw its future into doubt
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster roared back into action in January, four months after a disastrous launch pad explosion threw its future into doubt
SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage approaches the landing pad during its return to service in January, after a launchpad explosion in September led to a four-month hiatus
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage approaches the landing pad during its return to service in January, after a launchpad explosion in September led to a four-month hiatus
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster roared back into action in January, four months after a disastrous launch pad explosion threw its future into doubt
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster roared back into action in January, four months after a disastrous launch pad explosion threw its future into doubt
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off during its return to service in January, after a launchpad explosion in September led to a four-month hiatus
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off during its return to service in January, after a launchpad explosion in September led to a four-month hiatus
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off during its return to service in January, after a launchpad explosion in September led to a four-month hiatus
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off during its return to service in January, after a launchpad explosion in September led to a four-month hiatus
SpaceX launching the first ever re-used orbital class rocket booster in March 2017
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SpaceX launching the first ever re-used orbital class rocket booster in March 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off with an unmanned Dragon cargo ship in February 2017, loaded with about 5,000 lb (2,270 kg) of supplies for the International Space Station
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off with an unmanned Dragon cargo ship in February 2017, loaded with about 5,000 lb (2,270 kg) of supplies for the International Space Station
SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts in February 2017 from the same launch pad used by the Apollo 11 mission
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts in February 2017 from the same launch pad used by the Apollo 11 mission
SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off with an unmanned Dragon cargo ship in February 2017, loaded with about 5,000 lb (2,270 kg) of supplies for the International Space Station
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts off with an unmanned Dragon cargo ship in February 2017, loaded with about 5,000 lb (2,270 kg) of supplies for the International Space Station
The Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the EchoStar XXIII mission in March 2017
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The Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the EchoStar XXIII mission in March 2017
Spectacular long-exposure image of a launch burn, taken during SpaceX's EchoStar XXIII mission in March 2017
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Spectacular long-exposure image of a launch burn, taken during SpaceX's EchoStar XXIII mission in March 2017
The Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the EchoStar XXIII mission in March 2017
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The Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the EchoStar XXIII mission in March 2017
The Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the EchoStar XXIII mission in March 2017
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The Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the EchoStar XXIII mission in March 2017
The launch of SpaceX's SES-10 mission in March 2017 was the world's first re-flight of an orbital class rocket
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The launch of SpaceX's SES-10 mission in March 2017 was the world's first re-flight of an orbital class rocket
A refurbished SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage launches from Earth in March 2017
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A refurbished SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage launches from Earth in March 2017
The launch of SpaceX's SES-10 mission in March 2017 was the world's first re-flight of an orbital class rocket
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The launch of SpaceX's SES-10 mission in March 2017 was the world's first re-flight of an orbital class rocket
A refurbished Falcon 9 first stage lifts off in March 2017
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A refurbished Falcon 9 first stage lifts off in March 2017
A refurbished SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage returns to Earth for the first time. March 2017
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A refurbished SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage returns to Earth for the first time. March 2017
The launch of SpaceX's SES-10 mission in March 2017 was the world's first re-flight of an orbital class rocket
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The launch of SpaceX's SES-10 mission in March 2017 was the world's first re-flight of an orbital class rocket
SpaceX's NROL-76 Mission lifts off in May 2017
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SpaceX's NROL-76 Mission lifts off in May 2017
SpaceX's NROL-76 Mission lifts off in May 2017
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SpaceX's NROL-76 Mission lifts off in May 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the Inmarsat-5 Mission in May 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the Inmarsat-5 Mission in May 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off on its way to deliver the Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite to orbit in May 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off on its way to deliver the Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite to orbit in May 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the Inmarsat-5 Mission in May 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the Inmarsat-5 Mission in May 2017
Magnificent launch burn as SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off in May 2017
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Magnificent launch burn as SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off in May 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off on its way to deliver the Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite to orbit in May 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off on its way to deliver the Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite to orbit in May 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster in action in June 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster in action in June 2017
A Falcon 9 first stage prepares for touchdown ahead of a landing in June 2017
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A Falcon 9 first stage prepares for touchdown ahead of a landing in June 2017
Landing burns can be seen in this long exposure, as a Falcon 9 first stage touched down in June 2017
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Landing burns can be seen in this long exposure, as a Falcon 9 first stage touched down in June 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster at the ready ahead of the CRS-11 mission in June 2017. The company made history that day by flying a refurbished Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station for the second time
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster at the ready ahead of the CRS-11 mission in June 2017. The company made history that day by flying a refurbished Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station for the second time
A Falcon 9 first stage hurtles towards the Earth ahead of a landing in June 2017
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A Falcon 9 first stage hurtles towards the Earth ahead of a landing in June 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster takes off as part of the CRS-11 mission in June 2017, in which the company made history by flying a refurbished Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station for a second time
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster takes off as part of the CRS-11 mission in June 2017, in which the company made history by flying a refurbished Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station for a second time
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the BulgariaSat-1 Mission in June 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the BulgariaSat-1 Mission in June 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the BulgariaSat-1 Mission in June 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the BulgariaSat-1 Mission in June 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the BulgariaSat-1 Mission in June 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the BulgariaSat-1 Mission in June 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the BulgariaSat-1 Mission in June 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the BulgariaSat-1 Mission in June 2017
A Falcon 9 first stage after being recovered from SpaceX's Iridium-2 mission in June 2017
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A Falcon 9 first stage after being recovered from SpaceX's Iridium-2 mission in June 2017
A Falcon 9 first stage after being recovered from SpaceX's Iridium-2 mission in June 2017
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A Falcon 9 first stage after being recovered from SpaceX's Iridium-2 mission in June 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off during the Intelsat 35e Mission in July 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off during the Intelsat 35e Mission in July 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster on its way to deliver the Intelsat 35e satellite to orbit in July 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster on its way to deliver the Intelsat 35e satellite to orbit in July 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off during the Intelsat 35e Mission in July 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off during the Intelsat 35e Mission in July 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster on its way to deliver the Intelsat 35e satellite to orbit in July 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster on its way to deliver the Intelsat 35e satellite to orbit in July 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the CRS-12 mission in August 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the CRS-12 mission in August 2017
Launch burn from SpaceX's CRS-12 mission in August 2017
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Launch burn from SpaceX's CRS-12 mission in August 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the CRS-12 mission in August 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the CRS-12 mission in August 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the CRS-12 mission in August 2017
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster lifts off as part of the CRS-12 mission in August 2017
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster takes off in August 217 on its way to deliver the Formosat-5 into orbit
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster takes off in August 217 on its way to deliver the Formosat-5 into orbit
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster takes off in August 217 on its way to deliver the Formosat-5 into orbit
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster takes off in August 217 on its way to deliver the Formosat-5 into orbit
View gallery - 142 images

SpaceX has made astounding progress in its relatively short existence, but in many ways it is just getting started. The private space company is preparing to launch its next generation rocket booster next month, the Falcon 9 Heavy, which will become the most powerful operational rocket in the world and is the one CEO Elon Musk hopes will get us to Mars. As SpaceX embarks on a new chapter in its brief but trailblazing history, let's take a moment to appreciate some of its successes so far.

Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 with the aim of making human life multi-planetary. But doing so wasn't simply a matter of building bigger rockets and reaching for the stars. To make the whole venture profitable, he first needed to develop advanced and reliable rockets and spacecraft.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule have been regularly carrying cargo to the International Space Station for NASA since 2012, when the Dragon ship became the first private spacecraft to visit the orbiting laboratory. SpaceX now has over 70 future missions on its launch manifest, amounting to more than US$10 billion worth of contracts.

But the key element of SpaceX's strategy to land human life on other planets can be summed by one word: reusability. The company plans to massively the reduce the cost of space travel by recapturing its fired rockets and capsules, refurbishing them and then firing them again. And through a series of world-first rocket landings both on land and at sea, it has made never-seen-before steps toward that goal.

Reusability was again a key theme as Musk updated his Mars colonization plans last week, where he likened single-use rockets to destroying a multi-million dollar plane at the end of a flight. His new vision for making it to the Red Planet involves eliminating the landing legs on his rockets, autonomous docking systems for Dragon aircraft and a new booster cheekily called the BFR.

Those advances remain somewhere off in the distance, but the company has a track record of making significant strides when it comes to space technologies. Here's a quick rundown of its achievements since its inception:

2002: Elon Musk launches company in hope of taking human life to other planets
September 2008: Falcon 1 becomes the first private liquid fuel rocket to reach Earth orbit
July 2009: Falcon 1 becomes first private liquid fuel rocket to deliver commercial satellite to Earth orbit
June 2010: Falcon 9 rocket launches for the first time
December 2010: Dragon capsule recovered, the first private spacecraft to be retrieved from Low-Earth orbit
2011: Grasshopper program to develop reusable rockets announced
May 2012: Dragon becomes first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station
December 2013: Falcon 9 rocket reaches Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit for the first time
April 2014: Falcon 9 first stage lands on barge in ocean. Is destroyed by heavy seas
December 2015: Falcon 9 first stage booster lands, the first orbital class rocket to do so
April 2016: Falcon 9 booster lands on drone ship at sea for first time
March 2017: Previously landed Falcon 9 first stage re-launched for the first time. Lands again.
June 2017: Refurbished Dragon ship flies to the ISS, the first time the same unmanned spacecraft has returned to the station
September 2017: New rocket booster, the BFR, announced, along with updated plans for Mars colonization
November 2017: Planned launch of the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V last left for the moon in 1973

The engineers responsible for breaking down these barriers in space exploration are clearly some of the brightest minds in the business, but the staff SpaceX employs to capture its historic moments are no slouches either. Meaning, that all of this has produced some imagery that can only be described as spectacular, the best of which we've compiled into a SpaceX retrospective gallery.

View gallery - 142 images
1 comment
apprenticeearthwiz
Thanks for the truly awesome gallery but I feel cheated. Where are the spectacular explosions?