Falcon 1 Rocket
SpaceX truly did something no other company had ever done. They were the first private company, completely self-funded, to launch a liquid-fueled rocket into space. That is not something to scoff at. It was officially referred to as a “small-lift launch vehicle,” but most of us call it a rocket. It was a two-stage-to-orbit rocket that used liquid oxygen and rocket propellant (also known as LOX/RP-1). This rocket was first powered by a single Merlin engine and the second was powered by a single Kestrel engine. Of course, SpaceX launched the Falcon 1 Rocket five times, eventually reaching orbit on its fourth attempt.
Tom Mueller designed both the Merlin and Kestrel engines and assisted in the total design of the Falcon 1 Rocket. Elon Musk had no role in any of the design or development processes, regardless of calling himself SpaceX’s “Chief Engineer.” This is not to say he did not keep up with the process or speak to the actual designers and engineers working on the rocket. Simply put, Musk hired a very good team at SpaceX that made his aspirations a reality. Musk gave them a goal to reach and they reached it. Yet Musk should not be called the “inventor” or even one of them when it comes to this rocket.