Elon Musk's SpaceX valued at $21 billion

Future Business

Falcon Heavy, the high-capacity rocket created by SpaceX designed for bringing very large loads to orbit and beyond, will get its first launch this coming November, according to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.

In September, the company suffered a major setback when, during fueling for an engine test, one of its Falcon 9 rockets caught fire on the launchpad and exploded, destroying a $200 million satellite.

It's also worked out a plan to cheapen launches even further by reusing portions of its rockets - an idea that was initially scoffed at. So far two launches have been completed, that also involved successful landings.

With the ability to lift into orbit over 119,000 pounds - a mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel - Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. After some trial and error, the company mastered the maneuver and has also twice sent used rockets back into space, boasting a flawless performance for both launches.

Rocket manufacturing has always been exclusively the work of governments and massive legacy aerospace companies - like Boeing and Lockheed Martin's United Launch Alliance - that partner with governments.

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SpaceX has made ten space missions to the ISS under the NASA's space cargo resupply contract.

The space company has managed to raise funding from several investors, which include Founders Fund, Google, Fidelity, Capricorn, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners. SpaceX, the rocket maker founded by the technology entrepreneur and best known for wanting to colonize mars, is now worth an estimated $21 billion, making it one of the most valuable privately held companies in the world.

SpaceX conducted a launch of a single Falcon rocket in May of this year from Cape Canaveral. The general consensus has been that space exploration is too risky and rocket building too expensive for the private sector.

The latest valuation makes SpaceX one of the top five most valuable private, venture-backed tech companies in the U.S., joining Uber ($69.8B), Airbnb ($31B), WeWork ($20.8B), and the less consumer-facing analytics company Palantir ($21.3B).

A diagram showing SpaceX's milestones.

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