Sunday night’s successful SpaceX launch marks another extraordinary new milestone in space. It also provides an opportunity to assess the significant advances we’ve seen in just four years on Florida’s Space Coast.
When President Obama came into office, he inherited a human spaceflight program in crisis. The previous Administration’s decision to retire the Space Shuttle by 2010 was exacerbated by the lack of a viable follow-on program. In 2009, an independent commission concluded that the program to replace the Shuttle suffered such significant underinvestment and was so behind schedule that the first crewed flight to the International Space Station (ISS) would not occur until more than a year after the ISS was planned to be deorbited into the ocean.