After three failed launches, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk scraped together enough funding to launch a fourth version of SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket. On September 28, 2008, Musk's gamble paid off when the Falcon 1 became the first privately developed liquid-fuel rocket to orbit Earth. The rocket is seen here lifting off from the Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands.
Against a bright blue sky and the clamor of roaring applause, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket completed a (mostly) successful first flight on February 6, 2018. The huge rocket is now the most powerful launch vehicle in operation, rivaling the capabilities of the Saturn V rocket that sent humans to the moon during the Apollo era.
The milestone moment for SpaceX included the launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral, as well as near-simultaneous landings of the Falcon Heavy's reusable side boosters. However, the central core—which was supposed to land on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean—failed to properly fire its engines and slammed into the sea at about 300 miles an hour.
Still, the rocket's upper stage and payload, a cherry-red Tesla Roadster, are now orbiting Earth and preparing for a final engine fire that will place the electric sports car and its dummy-astronaut passenger into orbit around the sun.
Falcon Heavy's overall success caps a decade of firsts for SpaceX, which has been pushing boundaries for commercial spaceflight as part of CEO Elon Musk's vision to one day put humans on Mars. Here are some of the other records SpaceX has set during the new race to space.