Prince Sultan bin Salman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Space Commission, has congratulated the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (Space X) on the success of launching the “Falcon-9” rocket to the space, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
In two cables to the NASA and SPACE X’s officials, Prince Sultan affirmed that this launch is an important event that will be preserved by the history of space exploration because it is the first time that a commercial company has transferred astronauts outside the Earth's orbit and to the International Space Station.
He added that it is also an important moment for the NASA and the US space industry which has a partnership dating back to the mid-eighties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when the Saudi scientific team and astronaut have taken part in a successful mission to space via the Discovery Spacecraft.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Space Commission stressed that this space mission represents a first of its kind via a commercial company and a qualitative shift that opens a wider field for the private sector’s companies to contribute to the development of the space sector and benefit from the major economic opportunities in the field of space.
For the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Doughlas Hurley off at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“Today a new era in human spaceflight begins as we once again launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil on their way to the International Space Station, our national lab orbiting Earth,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“I thank and congratulate Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, and the SpaceX and NASA teams for this significant achievement for the United States. The launch of this commercial space system designed for humans is a phenomenal demonstration of American excellence and is an important step on our path to expand human exploration to the Moon and Mars,” he added.
Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations. This is SpaceX’s second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon and its first test with astronauts aboard, which will pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
“This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX. It is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the SpaceX team, by NASA and a number of other partners in the process of making this happen. You can look at this as the results of a hundred thousand people roughly when you add up all the suppliers and everyone working incredibly hard to make this day happen,” said Elon Musk, Chief Engineer at SpaceX.
The program demonstrates NASA’s commitment to investing in commercial companies through public-private partnerships and builds on the success of American companies, including SpaceX, already delivering cargo to the space station.