SpaceX's Orbcomm begins its ascent into the sky. SpaceX

Falcon 9 and Dragon Takeoff on a Crisp, Clear Day

To the heavens!

SpaceX, the poster child of commercial space flight, has been capturing our imaginations since the company was founded back in 2002, though it took them until 2010 to successfully return a craft from low-Earth orbit. Now, almost six full years from that first successful mission, SpaceX is leading humanity’s charge into space. Their latest feat, landing a Falcon 9 rocket on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean, was a major accomplishment that was picked up by news outlets all over the world. The hope, for the Elon Musk, the company’s founder and CEO, anyway, is to eventually use SpaceX technology to get to Mars and eventually set up a colony. With so much ahead of them, let’s take a look back at some of their best moments through photos.

Grasshopper Soaring Through the Sky

Before the Falcon 9 landed on that barge last month, SpaceX had to develop the technology, which is where Grasshopper came in. This rocket served was able to land just like Falcon 9 did (without the barge). Here were see it performing a 325-meter flight.

A Field of Rockets

Grasshopper launching for one its test flights in a field. This shot was captured by a helicopter from above, a pretty risky to be during a test rocket launch!

A Dark and Stormy Night

The famed Falcon 9 rocket lifts off in the evening to blast through some dark clouds. The bright boosters help highlight the smoke and dust lingering on the launchpad.

Launch and Land

This composite image shows light streaks of Flacon 9 taking off and landing. Long exposure for the win!

Abort, Abort!

The Dragon capsule performs an abort test slightly above the launchpad. This little capsule, which looks like the tip of the Space Shuttle, is part of the fleet that Musk foresees getting to Mars one day. (We can’t wait!)

A Dragon Flies

A Dragon capsule in orbit for part of the CRS-5 mission. There’s no word how this image was actually captured, but it certainly is beautiful. Image encircling Mars in one these bad boys.

On the Dragon’s Back

Taken shortly after the last photo, this is also the Dragon capsule orbiting the Earth in the CRS-5 mission. This image allows you to see all fo the details on the Dragon with the SpaceX logo taking center stage.

Falcon 9 and Dragon Liftoff!

Taken on Devember 8, 2010, this is an image of Falcon 9 taking a Dragon capsule into orbit. This is the first time a commercial spacecraft ever made it to orbit, a super huge moment for SpaceX and space-lovers everywhere.

Falcon 9 Closeup

A 2015 Falcon 9 launch captured in extreme detail. Not only can we see all of the smoke rising from the launch, but also the ice falling from the sides of the rocket as it heats up for its ascent into space.

Falcon 9 Lands on a Barge

On April 16, 2016, SpaceX successfully landed the Falcon 9 rocket on a drone barge in the Atlantic Ocean. This historic achievement means that the company has finally figured out how to reuse rockets for multiple missions, meaning the cost of space travel just plummeted. Hopefully, as the technology gets better and better, these rockets will be able to send people to orbit and beyond.

The SpaceX Team Gazes at Endeavour

This is what happens when Space Shuttle Endeavour flies over one of the most successful commercial space companies: everyone stands on the roof.

Merlin Test Fire

To get the Falcon 9 into space, you need a bunch of engines. This is one of them, called the Merlin 1D. In this image, captured back in 2013, the SpaceX team test fires their new engine inside the McGregor Rocket Development Facility.
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