Press Release

Nelson: SpaceX flight signals start of new era in space exploration

By SpaceRef Editor
December 9, 2010
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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.

SpaceRef staff editor.