CSF PR – Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Friday, July 8, 2011 – As the Space Shuttle is readied for its final, historic flight today, the next NASA astronauts to launch from America will do so on a commercial spacecraft, in a historic shift.
“With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, it is time to look to our commercial spaceflight industry to provide safe and affordable crew delivery,” said Admiral Craig Steidle, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “The growth of commercial spaceflight will enable NASA to have a bright future ahead.”
“This week, we welcome the arrival of the Commercial Space Age,” added John Gedmark, Executive Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
“In fact, thanks to commercial spaceflight, the next decade will see more flights to space than in any previous decade of the Space Age. This marks a historic milestone,” noted Gedmark.
“Commercial space vehicles will launch NASA astronauts, private citizens, and scientists and researchers by the dozens, and will even dock with private space stations. These are not dreams; this is near-term reality,” added Gedmark.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will enable NASA astronauts to once again launch from U.S. soil on American-made vehicles such as the SpaceX Dragon, the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser, the Boeing CST-100, and the Blue Origin Space Vehicle. The Commercial Crew Program will create thousands of jobs in the process, including a significant number of jobs in Florida.
Admiral Steidle added, “The commercial space industry is the fastest means to get American astronauts back into space aboard US spacecraft.”
Eric Anderson, chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and chair of Space Adventures, stated, “Commercial spaceflight is a good-news, made-in-America story that Americans can be proud of – it’s a story about job creation, inspiration, and technological innovation.”
Anderson added, “Commercial spaceflight will demonstrate to the entire world, in high profile fashion, the power of U.S. entrepreneurship and creativity. We are embarking on a truly amazing period for spaceflight – a real sea change.”
Anderson concluded, “As people watch the Space Shuttle’s white contrail stretch across the sky for the final time, we hope they will think, not just of the Shuttle’s proud legacy, but of the dawn of a new era – commercial space flight. Changes like this only occur in a generation – and it will be a change that will profoundly affect our nation.”