Congressional Praise for SpaceX’s Successful Dragon Flight

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL

The leading congressional authority on the U.S. space program said Wednesday that America is on track to remain a global leader in space, science and technology, after a privately owned rocket carrying a capsule powered off a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and into outer space before returning safely to Earth.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson made his comments today following the successful launch into low-earth orbit and return to Earth of the 157-foot tall Falcon 9 rocket and the Apollo-like unmanned Dragon capsule built by Space X. With the splash down of its capsule in the Pacific, Space X became the first private company to successfully recover a spacecraft sent into outer space.

“We’ve arrived at the dawn of new era of U.S. space exploration that should ensure America remains a leader in space exploration,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who was a crew member aboard a 1986 space shuttle mission, and now heads a Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA.

In September, Congress approved a Nelson-engineered NASA budget blueprint that would help boost the commercial rocket industry – such as the development of the Falcon 9 – and have NASA become the chief player for building a new deep-space rocket and carry out missions to Mars.

Based on the budget blueprint, Congress is now putting the final touches on a detailed 2011 spending plan for NASA. Lawmakers hope to pass it by year’s end.

Meantime, SpaceX is among a number of companies vying to prove they can carry out spaceflight missions once only performed by governments.  In the wake of the winding down of NASA’s space-shuttle program, the agency is counting on private companies to be able to deliver crew and cargo to service the International Space Station.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today praised the successful launch, re-entry and recovery of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and called it an important milestone in the development of cargo services, and eventually crew transportation services, needed to support and sustain the International Space Station.

“I congratulate SpaceX on its successful launch of the Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon capsule,” said Senator Hutchison.  “This launch represents an important milestone that reflects the wisdom of the balanced approach outlined in the recently enacted NASA authorization law.  The new law preserves and advances the activities of commercial space companies working to develop reliable cargo and crew services to the International Space Station.  Supporting the development of these commercial activities will allow NASA to focus its efforts on the development of a new launch system and crew exploration vehicle to move beyond low-Earth orbit, which the new law established as one of NASA’s highest priorities. Much work remains, but this is an important achievement and I congratulate SpaceX on a successful mission.”

Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, R-CA

Today, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher issued the following congratulatory statement on the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle and reentry of the Dragon capsule. Today’s launch was the first NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Demonstration Flight.

“SpaceX has taken one more step into changing the paradigm of space flight,” said Rohrabacher. “By demonstrating that we can use commercial companies to meet national goals, the continued success of SpaceX will enable NASA to focus their efforts into the far frontiers of space.

“American commercial space companies continue to meet new goals while ensuring the highest level of safety in protecting the public. As SpaceX and the entire commercial space industry continue to make spectacular new achievements, we salute their efforts and look forward to the days when we can permanently expand humanity beyond the Earth.”

The Dragon spacecraft is the first vehicle to return from space under the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration. In 2004, Rep. Rohrabacher served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics when the FAA was granted said authority.