SpaceX is the innovative and ambitious private aerospace manufacturer founded in 2002 by Elon Musk. In 2017, the company boldly went where no aerospace startup has gone before, posting 18 successful launches—twice as many as in the previous year—on behalf of companies in five countries, as well as the Air Force, NASA, and the top-secret U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. SpaceX delivered 48 satellites into orbit and 22,700 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station, and now holds more than 60% of the global share of commercial launch contracts.

A Global Leader

SpaceX truly earned its place among the aeronautical elite—and changed the economics of space flight•—by making its reusable rocket system seemingly as reliable as the sunrise: Throughout the year, it landed eight rockets on ocean-based drone platforms and sent three refurbished ones right back into the skies. The company’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, even made progress on his plan to colonize Mars and save humanity from “some eventual extinction event.” SpaceX also recently beat out Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman in securing military satellite launch contracts with the Pentagon. SpaceX, along with the United Launch Alliance, will provide launch services for U.S. national security missions from 2022 to 2027. Under this contract, SpaceX will launch 40% of those missions and has already received a $316 million contract for one such mission. Recently received a valuation of $100 Billion from Morgan Stanley, of that, is Starlink’s value of $80.9 Billion.

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation being constructed by SpaceX developing to provide low-cost internet to most of the world including remote locations. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), working in combination with ground transceivers. Musk’s initial estimate of the number of satellites soon grew, as he hoped to capture a part of the estimated $1 trillion worldwide internet connectivity market to help achieve his Mars colonization vision. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted SpaceX permission to fly 12,000 satellites and perhaps as many as 30,000 eventually. As of September 2020, SpaceX is launching up to 60 satellites at a time, aiming to deploy an additional 1,440 satellites to provide near-global service by late 2021 or 2022. SpaceX has started a private beta service in the Northern United States and Canada by August 2020 with a public beta following in November 2020. SpaceX has long-term plans to develop and deploy a version of the satellite communication system to serve Mars.