Following Alan Shepard’s flight aboard Freedom 7, there was a triumphant parade through Washington, D.C., to honor the first American in space. In one of the limousines sat NASA Administrator Jim Webb with Bob Gilruth, the man in charge of the Space Task Group that launched Shepard into space.
Gazing out at the adoring, cheering crowds that lined the parade route, Webb turned to Gilruth and said, “If it hadn’t worked, they’d be asking for your head.”
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the reaction to the SpaceX Dragon launch from Capitol Hill….
“I was pleased to see the successful launch of the Falcon 9 and the Dragon spacecraft this morning. This launch has been a long time coming, and I am happy to see this very challenging mission begin. There are many crucial milestones to be reached and capabilities to be demonstrated during this flight, all of which we hope leads to a demonstrated ability to provide cargo service to the International Space Station. Reliable cargo delivery is critical to fully utilizing this magnificent National Laboratory capability, in which we have invested so much as a nation and as a partnership.”
Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX)
Chairman, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman
“I would like to congratulate SpaceX on its successful launch. This was a momentous launch, and I am hopeful that the Dragon spacecraft will successfully complete its mission to supply cargo to the International Space Station and safely return to Earth. The unmanned launch, which took place early this morning out of Cape Canaveral, Florida, is the first of its kind. This is a complex mission, and if successful, will be a giant step forward in commercial cargo capability to the International Space Station.
“I have long supported the development of commercial cargo spaceflight, and while we still have a long way to go before American astronauts can fly aboard a commercial spacecraft, I hope SpaceX can build upon this success.
“I will continue to support those who can access the International Space Station, and want to keep the door open for our future successes.”
Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX)
“Congratulations to the NASA/SpaceX Team on a successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule. Whether it’s a commercial or government led mission, spaceflight is incredibly challenging and risky. This is an important moment in the next generation of the US space program. America will follow this mission closely. There are several critical and challenging mission objectives to complete and I look forward to a successful mission concluding with splashdown on May 31.”
Rep. Bill Posey (R-TX)
“Congratulations to Space X and all their employees who achieved a great milestone this morning with the successful launch of their Falcon 9 rocket. This morning’s launch offers the public a glimpse of what the future holds for space travel and exploration. It’s a marvelous achievement for Space X, for our scientists and engineers and for the American commercial space industry. We all hope the coming days will see Space X achieve the central mission objectives as the Dragon capsule rendezvous with the space station.”
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
“The successful launch of today’s test flight of SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS) marks the beginning of an exciting new era in space travel. Endeavors like this will make it possible for the private industry to venture into outer space and capitalize on the associated economic growth.
“Make no mistake. The United States belongs in space, we need to be in space, and this mix of American innovation, private enterprise and government support will assure that we remain world leaders. Today’s launch is not just a single venture into space but a change in the trajectory of how we think of space exploration.”
“I congratulate NASA and SpaceX on a successful launch, and wish them success on the demonstrations to be performed on this flight. This test flight is considerably more ambitious than their last test flight and if all of the demonstrations in this complex flight go as planned, the Dragon capsule will berth with the International Space Station and actually deliver cargo to the astronauts. Private industry and NASA are taking these next steps together, which will hopefully become the new way of doing business in space.
“SpaceX once again shows how much it carries the mantle of our earliest space endeavors by achieving what many experts considered impossible just a few short years ago. This successful launch of the Falcon 9, built right here in Southern California, is a new high water mark for developing and building the next generation of commercial domestic rockets.
“This program brings NASA one more step in the right direction. We must change orbital spaceflight from being dependent on and controlled by government employees, toward more entrepreneurial, cost-effective, commercial-based alternatives.
“Stimulating these efforts is helping the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable, less costly, and more capable space transportation to low Earth orbit. At the same time it enables NASA to focus on discovery and sending humans to explore the far reaches of the space frontier.”