I had an opportunity this week to visit the men and women at SpaceX, who along with their NASA teammates, are writing the next chapter of American space exploration history. SpaceX head Elon Musk and I inspected the historic Dragon spacecraft in McGregor, Texas, and saw the cargo that had been returned from the International Space Station. It was great to see tangible proof that the course we’re on allowing private industry to take over transportation to low-Earth orbit is sound and moving forward.
I also had a chance to visit the team at SpaceX’s headquarters in California, where the Dragon that first orbited the Earth in 2010 is housed, and congratulate them on the hard work they are doing on behalf of our nation. The door to commercial space is swinging broadly open thanks to the dedication and innovation of our industry partners.
President Obama has challenged us to develop capabilities to reach new destinations deeper in space and help our commercial partners take on the challenges of travel to low Earth orbit, and we’re doing just that.
SpaceX and our other industry partners are meeting that challenge, creating jobs and freeing up NASA to focus on missions to an asteroid and Mars.
The Dragon spacecraft I saw in Texas made history. But the real story is the people behind it who worked tirelessly to make this milestone a reality and even now are planning for the next mission and taking a hard look at what will be necessary for transport of crew. It started out as a Spacex team, working with our NASA team. But when the mission was complete, it was an American team, one that can achieve the impossible and help keep the United States the world leader in space exploration.
We’re making rapid progress toward renewing our nation’s capability to launch American astronauts to space from American soil using systems built by American companies. SpaceX and all of our commercial partners represent the best of American ingenuity. They’re going to open up space to more people and give our nation more capabilities to reach higher.
NASA’s commitment to American space transportation systems and the passion and dedication of our commercial partners are surely writing new pages of history. And it’s a living history because much more is to come.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, left, and SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk, view the historic Dragon capsule that returned to Earth on May 31 following the first successful mission by a private company to carry supplies to the International Space Station on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at the SpaceX facility in McGregor, Texas. Bolden and Musk also thanked the more than 150 SpaceX employees working at the McGregor facility for their role in the historic mission. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk congratulated workers Thursday at the company’s Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters on the successful flight of the Dragon spacecraft in May — the first mission by a commercial company to resupply the International Space Station. The capsule behind them is the Dragon spacecraft that flew on a demonstration mission in December 2010, during which SpaceX became the first private company to recover a spacecraft after it orbited Earth. Photo credit: (NASA/Michael Cabbage)