NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has praised Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk for the incredible rise of SpaceX in the private space industry, despite being written off by critics.
What Happened: Nelson recently told Newsweek that the space industry has benefitted from what SpaceX has already accomplished. He even suggested that there is a lot more to come from the Musk-led company — a notion that was "poo-pooed" by most in the company's early days.
"When there was the beginning of the space cargo and crew [programs], the two serious bidders were SpaceX and Boeing, and everybody poo-pooed SpaceX and said, 'Oh, Boeing is a legacy company,'" Nelson said.
"Well, guess who is about to make its sixth flight after its first test flight with astronauts, and guess who's still on the ground?"
NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011 and relied on Russia for trips to the International Space Station. A few years later, NASA awarded large contracts to Boeing Co BA and SpaceX in an effort to lean on the U.S. again for rocket missions.
Since that time, SpaceX has launched several NASA-funded crewed missions, while Boeing is still yet to carry humans to the International Space Station in its capsule.
Early last year, NASA selected SpaceX to develop the Human Landing System for its Artemis III mission, which aims to return astronauts to the moon. NASA's Orion capsule is expected to remain in orbit around the moon, while SpaceX's Starship descends to the lunar surface. Starship will then launch astronauts back into orbit where they will be transferred to the Orion capsule for a trip back to Earth.
Nelson reportedly told Newsweek that SpaceX is currently "on track" with the development of the Human Landing System.
"I'm a huge fan of what these commercial companies not only have done but will do," Nelson said before mentioning Amazon.com, Inc.'s AMZN Blue Origin.
"So I want Blue Origin, I want SpaceX, I want all of the other companies to be successful because I want as many opportunities for us to explore the cosmos as possible," he said.
"And because of that, I think it is a very exciting time for venturing out into the universe."
Photo: Courtesy of SpaceX.
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