Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars. SpaceX has many pads, on the East Coast of the US they own SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral and LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center for their lower inclination launches. They also own SLC-4E at Vandenberg, California for their high inclination launches. Another site is also being developed at Boca Chica, Texas.
The Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit was a boilerplate version of the Dragon spacecraft. After using it for ground tests to rate Dragon's shape and mass in various tests, SpaceX launched it into low Earth orbit on the maiden flight of the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX used the launch to evaluate the aerodynamic conditions on the spacecraft and performance of the carrier rocket in a real-world launch scenario, ahead of Dragon flights for NASA under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program.