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July 17, 2006

Human Spaceflight is Back!

National Space Society statement on the successful landing of Space Shuttle Discovery

Thanks to the crew of space shuttle Discovery, space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, and NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, the future of human spaceflight is brighter than it’s been in a long time.

The successful flight of Discovery, under the leadership of Commander Steve Lindsey, clears the decks for a healthy schedule of shuttle launches through 2010. NASA needed a great mission this time and the crew of STS-121 obliged, brilliantly meeting all mission goals with the excellence we have come to expect of our astronaut corps.

The NASA team deserves this unqualified success, from launch through mission to landing. The flight of Discovery may well be a turning point for the agency, a success at one of most important moments of the human spaceflight program.

What made the moment even sweeter was that the astronauts had company on orbit, courtesy of a hard-working team based in northern Las Vegas. Bigelow Aerospace, the private space habitat company founded by businessman Robert Bigelow, launched their inaugural test vehicle, Genesis 1, on the ninth day of Discovery’s mission.

Genesis 1, while unmanned, holds promise for being the first of a series of vehicles that will lead to the establishment of the first private space habitat on orbit. Years ago, Mr. Bigelow realized that he could take his personal experience in business and use it to build a privately-developed Commercial Space Complex. Genesis-1 is testing crucial technologies for that complex, including the signature inflated walls of the habitat, keeping Mr. Bigelow’s plan on track.

Which brings us to Dr. Griffin, NASA Administrator. Despite his professed indifference to 'emotions', Griffin has become one of the most eloquent advocates of human spaceflight that the space community has ever had.

In one particularly powerful phrasing, he stated, "for me the single overarching goal of human space flight is the human settlement of the solar system, and eventually beyond. I can think of no lesser purpose sufficient to justify the difficulty of the enterprise, and no greater purpose is possible.”

The National Space Society shares this belief. NSS Executive Director George Whitesides stated: “Human exploration and settlement is the only motivation that truly justifies the scale of our current space endeavors, and it is the only motivation that provides the context for even greater investments in those efforts. Not only should we invest more on human spaceflight, we should invest more on space science, and we should invest more on commercial operators like Bigelow and Elon Musk who may hold the key to the innovations required to open space for the rest of us.”

The National Space Society congratulates the crew of Discovery, and the entire space shuttle team, on a job well done.

More launch information:

For more information on the Shuttle Launch, you can also visit the official NASA website:

About the National Space Society

The National Space Society (NSS) is an independent, grassroots organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. Founded in 1974, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen's voice on space. NSS counts thousands of members and over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The society also produces the annual International Space Development Conference. For more information on the society or the conference, please visit:


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Updated Tue, Jul 22, 2008 at 14:52:19
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