With SpaceX delivering satellites into orbit and launching resupply missions for the International Space Station on a regular basis — not to mention sending a car into an orbit around the Sun just for fun — it’s easy to forget that the company is still in startup mode. Eventually, SpaceX hopes to become the go-to for quick-turnaround launches, and with lower and lower costs thanks to reusable rocket technology, but they’re not quite there yet.
That means Elon Musk and co still need to raise funds, and they’re doing just that with a $507 million round that brings the company’s valuation up to a staggering $25 billion. At that level, SpaceX could become the third most valuable venture-backed startup in the United States, according to PitchBook Data. The only companies above SpaceX on that list are Uber and Airbnb.
After a rocky start and many, many delays and setbacks in its early years, SpaceX has quickly proven that reusable rocket stages are a viable alternative to one-use launch hardware, and its “flight proven” Falcon 9s have performed well. But SpaceX’s ambitions are far greater than timely, affordable satellite deliveries and resupply missions, and the company is pushing forward with plans for even larger rockets that could one day carry astronauts beyond Earth orbit.
Recently, SpaceX CEO and possible future super-villain Elon Musk showed off a tool to be used in the construction of the BFR, or Big Falcon Rocket. The spacecraft will be an absolute behemoth, and will be powerful enough to send travelers on a path to Mars. Musk envisions Mars trips becoming routine, but in order for that to become a reality we’ll need real-world technologies to catch up with lofty concepts.
An incredibly rough date of 2030 has been floating around as a possible timeline for when the first manned Mars mission will take place, but many, many things would need to happen over the next decade for that to be realistic. Whether humans can endure long-haul space travel, and what precautions we’d need to put in place in order for that to happen, are still be question marks. If and when we finally decide to make that journey, SpaceX is doing everything in its power to make sure it’s involved.