This week on September 28 2008 SpaceX managed to finally get the Falcon 1 rocket into space.

Founder Elon Musk was obviously thrilled, although curiously he wasn’t hungry – even though he’d skipped breakfast earlier that day. It was because he’d had such a big launch.

And just like that pun spectacularly failed, so too did Elon’s first three rocket launches in 2006, 2007, and also earlier that same year in 2008. It was why the payload of ‘RatSat’ was just a dummy and was used to simulate the mass of an actual satellite to test the rocket’s capabilities without risking a functional satellite. Obviously, cash was more important than ever as this was the first fully liquid-fuelled launch vehicle developed privately to enter orbit. An expensive business!

After those three expensive failures, that fourth success was pretty crucial for Elon Musk who has mentioned in several interviews that the company was close to running out of funds, and the success of the fourth launch was critical for securing more funding and ensuring the survival of the company.

After the rocket was launched successfully the next July (2009), this meant the rocket had 5 launches before it was retired, helping secure SpaceX to become the success it has become and with a market cap this summer (2023) of around $150 Billion, it’s Worth More Than Boeing and Raytheon. Not bad.

The moral here? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!
Although it may be helpful make sure you have deep pockets or access to someone else’s capital.

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