Take That Critics! The NewSpace Age is Here!
The Space Frontier Foundation congratulated SpaceX of Hawthorne, California for a successful flight of their Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The first test of the rocket, lifted off at 2:45 p.m. EDT from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, defying the odds and critics by flying a perfect flight and delivering its test payload to orbit as planned. The Foundation sees this success as proving the viability of commercial “NewSpace” firms and their ability to take over transportation from Earth to low Earth orbit – as called for in NASA’s new space policy.
“That’s one giant leap for commercial space and one small step towards an open space frontier!’ said the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson. “Congratulations to the entire SpaceX team! President Obama and Administrator Bolden are counting on this young new generation of rocketeers to pick up where the failed Constellation program left off. Be it SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Boeing or the United Launch Alliance, these commercial rockets are The new way to space for America.”
SpaceX to-date has won two competitive awards: in 2006 a Space Act Agreement worth up to $276 million in milestone payments to help develop its capacity to fly cargo to and from the station, and in 2008 a $1.6 billion contract to supply the space station with 12 flights from 2011 to 2015. SpaceX also has commercial contracts for the Falcon 9 to carry Canadian, Isreali, Argentinian and U.S. private payloads. Falcon 9’s success is a significant step toward SpaceX’s goal of sending a capsule into orbit later this summer and one to the space station next year.
“This flight shows America has not retreated at all from opening the space frontier. We have just changed horses so we can get there faster, better, and cheaper,” said Foundation Chairman Bob Werb. “Those saying NewSpace hasn’t got what it takes to handle America’s Earth to LEO space freight services just got their first answer.”
Many defending the already over budget Constellation program have been predicting failure for new space firms like SpaceX . To these “traditionalists” space is a government domain, and access to the frontier should be on cost-plus government rockets – no matter how ill conceived or expensive. On the other side are those who see the rise of a new partnership in space: NASA astronauts enabled to explore deep space by the private sector shouldering the taxi business of Earth to orbit transportation.
“Some have decried the new American space program and harkened back to the good old elitist days of Apollo, and what they see as the end of the “right stuff” mindset that took us to the Moon. Well, they are dead wrong.” Concluded Tumlinson: “You want to see excitement and drive of the early days of Apollo? You want to see the Right Stuff right now? Go visit SpaceX or any of the other NewSpace firms and teams out there reaching for the stars. It is alive and well!”