[Updated on May 31: The Dragon spacecraft successfully completed its landmark mission today by splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.]
Today, history was made in space. For the first time, an American private spacecraft is now docked at the International Space Station. Dr. Holdren, the President’s science and technology advisor, issued a statement on “a key milepost in President Obama’s vision for America’s continued leadership in space.”
Below are some additional thoughts from leaders in the space community:
Statements from Space Community Leaders on Successful Berthing of the
Dragon Spacecraft with the International Space Station
Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut:
“This week’s successful launch and delivery of logistics supplies to the International Space Station by a US commercial space company, reminds us that where the entrepreneurial interests of the private sector are aligned with NASA’s mission to explore, America wins. Falcon 9’s maiden flight to ISS – and the other commercial space launches that lie ahead - represent the dawn of a new era in space exploration. Nearly 43 years after we first walked on the moon, we have taken another step in demonstrating continued American leadership in space.”
Norm Augustine, retired Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin:
“Successes in commercial space transportation are not only important in their own right, they also free NASA to do that which it does best...namely, push the very frontiers of space and knowledge.”
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group:
“Congratulations are truly in order for SpaceX and NASA on this historic moment. Elon, Gwynne and the team have poured their heart and soul into the Dragon and it has paid off in stunning success. Everyone who is working to push forward the space frontier recognizes that such a mission is a massive challenge, and I join the world in lauding this important accomplishment. I believe this new era in spaceflight will open the benefits of space to dramatically more people and activities, saving the government needed funds while enabling NASA to explore the destinations we have longed dreamed of.”
Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President, Northrop Grumman Corporation:
“Congratulations to NASA and SpaceX on the successful launch of Falcon 9 and docking of Dragon to the International Space Station. The development of new commercial launch services that will free up NASA's resources for ambitious new projects beyond low Earth orbit is an important step forward in the space enterprise. This represents new business opportunities for many companies, and a continuation of America's leadership in space and the pursuit of new frontiers."
Eileen Collins, retired astronaut:
“I am very happy to see the success of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon. This is good for NASA and good for the country. We are on a path toward freeing up resources so NASA can invest in deep space exploration. Congratulations to SpaceX and NASA; your many years of hard work are paying off! I am very excited about the future of space exploration!”
Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman/CEO of X PRIZE Foundation, Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc.:
“The success of SpaceX/Dragon shows us that the most exciting days of the American Space Age is ahead of us. American entrepreneurship and capitalism has driven the extraordinary world we enjoy with computers, internet, mobile. The success that Elon Musk and the entire SpaceX/Dragon team has demonstrated this week should give everyone confidence that these same drivers will help guarantee that the most vibrant period of human space exploration is before us.”
Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida:
“History requires special moments and today was one of them. As when the rails from east and west were joined to create the transcontinental railroad in 1869 and truly opened up the United States, so too did today’s linking of Dragon and the ISS symbolize the opening of space to the power and innovation of private commerce. “
Sandy Johnson, President and CEO of Barrios Technology:
“Congratulations to everyone at SpaceX and NASA for this ‘giant leap for mankind’ moment. The successful docking of the Dragon capsule to the ISS demonstrates our nation’s continued support of the American dream. This is a significant step to commercializing access to low earth orbit – opening up a new market for our best and brightest entrepreneurs. And it allows NASA to focus on the human and robotic exploration of our solar system – charting new paths forward with the resultant benefits to our nation and the world.”
Joanne Maguire, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co.:
"We at Lockheed Martin congratulate NASA and SpaceX on demonstrating the feasibility of this new complementary means of cargo delivery to ISS. As commercial partners in spaceflight with NASA from its earliest days, we appreciate the significance of this long awaited first step."
Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society:
"Today the SpaceX capsule that launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket matched its speed with the orbiting International Space Station. American astronauts reached out and grasped the capsule with the station's robotic arm and docked it to the air-lock. I encourage everyone to take a moment and consider just how hard this sort of thing is. This is a huge step, a milestone, enabling cheaper, more reliable access to space. Investments like this, where the private sector and government work together on technical challenges, strengthens our economy by making advanced technology and innovation part of our culture. While Earth orbit is vital, keep in mind that visionaries like Elon Musk have in mind a human journey to Mars to look for signs of water and life. Discoveries like these on another world will change this world forever. With the success of commercial partnerships like this, NASA will have the resources to reach farther and deeper into the cosmos so that we may all further know and appreciate our place in space."
Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut:
“The arrival and docking of the Dragon space capsule at the ISS is more than historic. It is, in fact, the beginning of a new era in space exploration, one in which private industry and individual initiative will begin leading the way in the use of near-space activity. This is not only exciting and momentous, but is fully in keeping with the American character of risk taking and consequent reward. The long term results of this “first” are beyond our ability to see at the beginning of this era, but there is no doubt that it will serve as a huge incentive for young people who now have firm evidence of the value, and opportunity for individual initiative. Near-Earth space is now firmly a regular part of the human environment along with the air, water, and land. The future is now, once again, opened to imagination, creativity, and dreams!”
Mark Sirangelo, Corporate Vice President and head of Sierra Nevada Corporation Space System:
"Sierra Nevada Corporation congratulates SpaceX on their successful docking of the Dragon Cargo Capsule to the International Space Station. This achievement illustrates the power of NASA-funded U.S. competition to fill the domestic capabilities lost with the retirement of the Space Shuttle."
Steve Squyres, Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, and Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council:
“SpaceX is an American original. Two days ago I watched the joyful reaction of their young and passionate workforce as they learned that their latest Falcon 9 launch had successfully deployed a Dragon spacecraft into orbit. Today they met their toughest milestone yet, with the berthing of that same Dragon at the International Space Station. This is a landmark accomplishment, beginning a new era in space -- the dawn of private enterprise on the new frontier. And the beauty of it is that it's just the beginning. SpaceX is the first, but others will follow, bringing new capabilities, driving down costs, and making things possible that have never been possible before. “
Phil Larson is Senior Advisor for Space and Innovation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy