NASA Administrator Charles Bolden phones space station crew members Don Pettit, Joe Acaba and Andre Kuipers to congratulate them for capturing the Dragon. "You made history today," Bolden said.
Today's first post-shuttle visit to the International Space Station by a U.S.-made spaceship won high-level praise from the White House, NASA Headquarters, Congress and other circles. Here's a sampling of the reaction:
"For the first time, a private American company has successfully launched a spacecraft into orbit and berthed it with the International Space Station — an achievement of historic scientific and technological significance and a key milepost in President Obama’s vision for America’s continued leadership in space.
"That is exactly what the president had in mind when he laid out a fresh course for NASA to explore new scientific frontiers and take Americans ever deeper into our solar system while relying on private-sector innovators — working in the competitive free market — to ferry astronauts and cargo to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station. It’s essential we maintain such competition and fully support this burgeoning and capable industry to get U.S. astronauts back on American launch vehicles as soon as possible.
"I could not be prouder of our scientists and engineers — both government and private sector employees—who have contributed to this historic mission. A passion for discovery and a sense for adventure have always driven this nation forward, and I join all Americans in watching what future possibilities are enabled by today’s great achievement."
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden:
"Today marks another critical step in the future of American spaceflight. Now that a U.S. company has proven its ability to resupply the space station, it opens a new frontier for commercial opportunities in space — and new job creation opportunities right here in the U.S. By handing off space station transportation to the private sector, NASA is freed up to carry out the really hard work of sending astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before. The Obama administration has set us on an ambitious path forward and the NASA and SpaceX teams are proving they are up to the task."
"This week’s successful launch and delivery of logistics supplies to the International Space Station by a U.S. 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."
"If the promise of the International Space Station is to be achieved, it is essential that a reliable and cost-effective means to transport cargo to the ISS be available. Today's successful berthing of SpaceX's Dragon capsule to the ISS is an important step on the path to demonstrating operational commercial cargo transport support for the ISS. I want to congratulate NASA and SpaceX and their dedicated and talented employees on this significant accomplishment. I wish SpaceX and NASA continued success with this cargo demonstration flight and look forward to the successful return of the unmanned Dragon capsule. I also look forward to Orbital's own upcoming demonstration flight."
"Tomorrow the six astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station will open the hatches to the first visiting vehicle from a private company. Future commercial cargo deliveries under NASA’s COTS and CRS programs will ensure that the ISS continues to be a resource for America and its international partners.
"This is truly a momentous accomplishment for SpaceX and for the industry. The capabilities of the commercial space industry grow by the day, and America is well on its way to having a diverse, cost-effective and dependable space transportation system. The entire team at SpaceX should be commended for their commitment and skill, and thanked for their contribution to restoring U.S. access to the space station."
Stuart Witt, CEO, Mojave Air and Space Port:
“Having attending the first launch attempt last Saturday morning, it was obvious a new day is dawning in American and international space access. The combined electric atmosphere displayed by NASA leadership and working-level engineers side by side with the SpaceX’s private space industry leadership could not be missed. It is real, and welcomed by all parties. The successes demonstrated by SpaceX ... are a testament to what is possible. Our domestic and international partners are watching in stunned awe as SpaceX ticks off an impressive set of firsts right before our eyes! While many continue to point to how things used to be and strive to bring them back, it is time for all to be mindful of the pioneers who blazed a trail before us, celebrate the success of the public/private team assembled today and look to the future for new and creative ways to achieve our space exploration goals for all humanity. We need sound public policy which enables creativity by the private sector going forward, while continuing to take full advantage of the many lessons learned from public investment."
Christine Anderson, executive director, New Mexico Spaceport Authority:
"It's not every day you get to witness history in the making. The successful on-orbit rendezvous of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft with the ISS is a watershed moment for the U.S. commercial spaceflight industry. All of us at Spaceport America salute SpaceX for their groundbreaking achievement. We send our congratulations to Elon Musk and the entire SpaceX team, and wish them continued success of their mission."
Frank DiBello, president, Space Florida:
“The State of Florida is so proud to be the launching place of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon capsule that made today’s ISS docking exercise possible. We are thrilled that Florida continues to shine as the birthplace of next-generation U.S. commercial space launch and exploration initiatives — as it has been for the past 50+ years. We congratulate SpaceX on today’s historic achievement."
"This week, SpaceX not only successfully launched the first commercial space transportation vehicle to dock with the International Space Station, but also marked a place in history that will forever be remembered as the true commercialization of space — the pivotal moment when private industry replaced government to form the new space economy. We salute SpaceX for its groundbreaking accomplishment, and look forward to the innovation and space technology advancements this paradigm shift will enable."
"Now is the time to double down on U.S. industry and increase funding for the Commercial Crew Program to allow multiple companies to demonstrate commercial orbital human spaceflight early in the second half of this decade. [SpaceX founder] Elon Musk had a vision and his team has carried it to fruition. Other U.S. industries have shown this model works and now we have clear proof that space is no different. Visionaries, dreamers and entrepreneurs have opened frontiers in the past, and they will open the final frontier of space as well. Let's realize these visions by fully funding Commercial Crew."
More about the mission:
- Space station grabs a 'Dragon by the tail'
- 'Star Trek' Scotty's remains go into space
- Scenes from a SpaceX spectacular
- Next steps in a new space race
- Cosmic Log archive on SpaceX
Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter or adding Cosmic Log's Google+ page to your circle. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for other worlds.