Despite many challenges, NASA accomplished extraordinary things this year. Our agency’s new direction, supported by President Obama and Congress, provides us a bold path forward to demonstrate even further the many things of which we are capable. We will build on the strong foundation of hard work over the years, and ensure continued success in the future. Here’s a link to my message about the wide range of achievements in 2010 for America’s space program.
Now that NASA’s bipartisan Authorization Act of 2010 has been signed into law by President Obama — giving us a clear direction forward — I want to provide you with periodic updates about some of the exciting things happening in the agency. And one of the most exciting things taking place is the emergence of a strong commercial space industry that will, among other things, help provide vital support to the International Space Station and may one day carry astronauts into orbit.
Earlier today, one of our commercial partners, SpaceX, completed the first successful demonstration flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. While rocket launches from the Cape are considered a common occurrence to some, the historic significance of today’s achievement by SpaceX should not be lost. Just the launch is difficult enough, but successful launch, orbit, and intact reentry have been accomplished by only a few nations to date. The SpaceX mission today is the first time an entrepreneurial enterprise has joined this very elite company of space faring entities. This is the first in a new generation of commercial launch systems, and the successful demonstration flight is an important milestone in meeting the objectives outlined by the President and Congress. It once again shows how government and industry can leverage expertise and resources to foster a new and vibrant space economy.
Watch video of the launch here:
Over the past month, we’ve seen the runway inaugurated at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the opening of Orbital Sciences’ mission control center, and the first-ever license for commercial spacecraft re-entry granted by the FAA to SpaceX. Commercial space is fast becoming a reality and the capabilities NASA itself is starting to develop will help reshape our perspective on what is possible. These new explorers are to space flight what Lindbergh was to commercial aviation.
We’re witnessing the dawn of a new era whose ultimate result could be routine, safe access to space, with industry, academia, other agencies and other governments regularly sending payloads and people to low Earth orbit. That’s the goal. There remains a lot of work left to do in order to get there, but today was a dramatic step forward.