SpaceX, founded in 2002 by CEO and chief designer Elon Musk, receives funding from NASA and the private sector to launch civilian and military satellites into orbit, as well as to transport supplies and equipment to and from the International Space Station.
“SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecrafts,” according to the company website. “The ultimate goal [is] enabling people to live on other planets.”
The 224-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket boasts several upgrades, including longer fuel tanks, new software and engines that are 50-to-60 percent more powerful. The launch pad also received modifications totaling $100 million in preparation for future expeditions.
The launch is expected to encourage a shift toward privatization of the U.S. space program. NASA recently committed $1.6 billion to SpaceX to carry more spacecrafts to orbit over the next several years.
After the launch, Musk tweeted, “All satellites deployed at the targeted orbit insertion vectors.”