Miles O'Brien on SpaceX Launch: "Space for the Rest of Us"

At the PBS Newshour site, an analysis of what today's historic SpaceX launch means for the future of space flight, by veteran space journalist Miles O'Brien.

Space is hard and unforgiving and there is still a lot of challenging work ahead for the SpaceX Dragon team. I would not pop the champagne corks just yet. But this is a moment to savor.

For the first time since Endeavour's wheels stopped on runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center on July 21, 2011, a U.S. built spacecraft is back in Mach 25 motion - on its way to meet up with the International Space Station. Endeavour landed 42 years and one day after Neil Armstrong first left his footprints on the moon, and the J.D. Salinger of the Apollo astronaut corps has been very vocal in his opposition and skepticism about this new course in space.

But anyone who claims they are interested in the exploration of the Final Frontier must applaud this endeavor (lower case - without the "u"). It has now been more than fifty years since human beings first flew to space and little more than 500 of them have been there. Talk about the ultimate elite club.

It is high time that ended and that will never happen if the government runs its space enterprise the way it has up until now: with cost-plus contracts that provide no incentive for the private sector to think about efficiencies.

Read the rest here.


  1. Seems a fair assessment, but I always worry that the private sector won’t focus on the basic science and long-term goals that NASA used to (at least before it became the ultimate political football). The private sector is indeed known for efficiency, but it’s also known for being short-sighted and subjecting everything to cost-benefit analysis – and ignoring intangible benefits (i.e, anything that isn’t immediate profit).

    I applaud the SpaceX team, and hope this is a new chapter of private-public partnerships, not NASA’s exit from space exploration.

    1. Think about it this way. If the Private Sector can handle the people moving bits and monitizing  it allows NASA to focus even moreso on the Science and Discovery bits.

  2. This is probably old news to a lot of people, but there’s seriously a space journalist named Miles O’Brien?  Does he get a lot of people calling him “Chief?”

  3. Actually, it wasn’t  the Space Shuttle Endeavour whose “wheels stopped on runway 15 at KSC on July 21, it was Space Shuttle Atlantis’ – STS-135. Endeavour was the second to the last mission, STS-134. :)

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