Falcon 9 launched Transporter-1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Jan. 24, 2021.
Courtesy SpaceX

Space travel was once a game only governments played—superpowers like the U.S. and the old USSR, and later the Europeans and Japanese and others. But 11 years ago, SpaceX changed all that when it became the first private company to launch a spacecraft into orbit and successfully recover it. Since then, SpaceX has gone on to demolish record after record, becoming the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, the first to safely land and reuse the first stage of a rocket, and, as of last May, the first to send astronauts into space. Earth’s orbit is only the beginning: this spring, NASA tapped SpaceX to build the lunar lander the U.S. will use to have astronauts back on the surface of the moon in this decade. And the company’s leadership—including CEO Elon Musk and COO Gwynne Shotwell—has made clear that SpaceX plans to one day put boot prints on Mars.

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Write to Jeffrey Kluger at jeffrey.kluger@time.com.