SpaceX has a year of banner

SpaceX is reaping profits this year, solidifying its role in the top tier of space companies operating in the US today – and impressing the rest of the sector in a new era of space flight.

Why it matters: Instead of staying the young upstart that breaks all the rules, SpaceX is now making the rules for the other companies involved in the sector.

  • But as SpaceX transitions from startups to established leaders and space companies that have been trying to modernize for decades, it’s not yet clear how – and how fast – the space sector is channeling its growth.

What’s happening: SpaceX has embraced the idea of ​​what an airline can and should be, working on thin margins and performing feats – such as landing orbital rocket launchers and responding to them – that were once the realm of science fiction.

So far this year, 13X has launched 13 missions to orbit.

  • The company’s most remarkable success was its launch and landing of its first crew mission for NASA, bringing human spaceflight to American soil for the first time in nine years.
  • SpaceX is also moving ahead of its competitors working on the launch of fleets of Internet-radiating satellites, with more than 500 Starlink spacecraft launched to date.
  • The company’s prototype Starship – which is expected to launch SpaceX’s interplanetary vehicle one day – successfully flew and entered a test flight this summer.
  • SpaceX also won a huge contract for military satellite launches in the 2020s.

The big picture: At the same time, SpaceX is going through the growing pain of a company moving from one phase of its life in the sector to another.

  • Instead of being the new company on the block, SpaceX now serves as the model for many of the launch space companies coming on the scene today.
  • Because of its position in the sector, “she said [SpaceX] must always be their best. They should be, “Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, told Axios. They will be controlled more and more. “
  • SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Yes, but: The inertia of the space industry is enormous, and it is not yet clear whether SpaceX has the momentum to support the rest of the sector in its vision for the future.

  • Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and other companies have been involved in the sector for decades as SpaceX and their ties with the government – still the sector’s largest customer – run particularly deep.
  • Last week, Musk joined United Launch Alliance Twitter after both companies won enormous national security contracts, the founder’s continued frustration tied with the enduring power of the Boeing-Lockheed Martin initiative.

What follows: SpaceX is expected to fly more test flights of its Starship next year, further proving the spacecraft.

  • SpaceX also has more crew missions on the books, including a flight from the NASA crew that is expected to launch to the International Space Station in October.
  • The company has defined what a rocket can be, space analyst Phil Smith, of Bryce Space and Technology, told Axios. “Let’s not overwrite what she’s [rockets] are, and let’s think about how you like the email. And they did that. “