Today we marked another milestone in our aggressive efforts to make sure American companies are launching resupply missions from U.S. shores. Our NASA-SpaceX team completed another successful berthing of the SpaceX Dragon cargo module to the International Space Station (ISS) following its near flawless launch on the Falcon-9 booster out of Cape Canaveral, Florida Friday morning. Launching rockets is difficult, and while the team faced some technical challenges after Dragon separation from the launch vehicle, they called upon their thorough knowledge of their systems to successfully troubleshoot and fully recover all vehicle capabilities. Dragon is now once again safely berthed to the station.
I was pleased to watch the launch from SpaceX’s facility in Hawthorne, CA, and I want to congratulate the SpaceX and NASA teams, who are working side by side to ensure America continues to lead the world in space.
A little more than one year after the end of the Space Shuttle Program, our American industry partner, SpaceX, began resupplying the space station with cargo launched from our shores – and they’re on schedule to make at total of 12 resupply missions. Just last week, Orbital Sciences successfully test fired the engines of their Antares rocket, that will power a planned resupply test flight later this year from America’s newest spaceport in Wallops Island, Virginia.
Even as commercial cargo launches settle into a regular pattern, we continue to work hard on the Commercial Crew Program and the capability to once again launch our astronauts to space from U.S. soil with American companies. Our three partners – – SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada — continue to mark milestones toward this capability, and we are confident that within the next few years, we will be reporting a new series of human space launches to low Earth orbit, part of our ongoing efforts to reach farther in space.
Industry’s success in developing new space transportation systems is enabling NASA to focus on President Obama’s goals of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s. We continue to develop the space technologies to make these missions possible even as we marvel at the ingenuity of our commercial partners in taking us to low Earth orbit on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, all of this progress could be jeopardized with the sequestration ordered by law to be signed by the President Friday evening. The sequester could further delay the restarting of human space launches from U.S. soil, push back our next generation space vehicles, hold up development of new space technologies, and jeopardize our space-based, Earth observing capabilities.
In spite of this threat to our progress, however, we must remember that all of our investments in space are creating good jobs here on Earth and helping to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. As SpaceX demonstrated again today, tomorrow’s exploration missions are happening right now, and tomorrow’s innovators will have many paths from which to choose and many exciting NASA missions of which they can be a part.
To learn more about NASA’s commercial space program, visit: