Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Management


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Alfred E. Thal, Jr., PhD.


The Space Launch Vehicle (SLV) industry has been around for a long time, but few companies have managed to enter this industry. SpaceX was founded only 10 years ago, but it has managed to become a leader in the U.S. industry and a dominant player worldwide. The purpose of this thesis research is to discover what it took for SpaceX to break into this tightly controlled industry. A qualitative analysis was performed to compare SpaceX to companies that overcame the barriers of entry for their respective industries. SpaceX, like FedEx, could implement a unique technique to the industry and find success. SpaceX was also evaluated against guidelines and principles presented by relevant research. The results of this research showed that SpaceX, driven by Elon Musk, overcame the barriers of entry primarily through their large initial investment and implementation of vertical integration. This research showed SpaceX adhered to the guidelines and avoided misconceptions associated with implementing vertical integration. Musk, following value innovative principles, is using the concept of reusability to decrease the cost of an SLV. The results of this research show that the U.S. Air Force can aid other companies in the future to create a healthier competition in the SLV industry.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number