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Orion Opinions: SpaceX’s Elon Musk Tweets Congrats to NASA

Test Flight of NASA’s Orion a Success From Launch to Splashdown 2:38

Friday's nearly flawless test flight of NASA's Orion deep-space capsule drew a host of congratulatory comments — even from SpaceX's billionaire founder, Elon Musk, who is a rival of Orion's prime contractors.

"Congratulations to NASA on the flawless Orion flight, as well as to program prime contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing!" Musk tweeted after splashdown. The reaction was particularly gracious, considering that Musk is contesting military launch contracts that have been awarded to United Launch Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture.

Among other reactions:

  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: "Today's flight test of Orion is a huge step for NASA and a really critical part of our work to pioneer deep space on our Journey to Mars. The teams did a tremendous job putting Orion through its paces in the real environment it will endure as we push the boundary of human exploration in the coming years."
  • Former NASA astronaut Stephen Robinson, speaking to NBC News: "I have never seen such a flawless maiden voyage before in the world of spaceflight."
  • Lead flight director Mike Sarafin, speaking from his console at Johnson Space Center's Mission Control: "Today was a great day for America. While this mission was unmanned, we were all aboard Orion."
  • Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin's Orion project manager: "When we started at JSC, we started with all the Apollo guys still there. So we've kinda now finally done something for the first time for our generation. It's a good day."
  • House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas: "The Orion launch is a major milestone for U.S. space exploration and our efforts to travel further into our solar system than ever before. That is why I place the highest priority on ensuring NASA remains on budget and on schedule with the Space Launch System."
  • Planetary Society Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Vaughn: "Today's Orion voyage is a significant milestone for NASA and the U.S. human spaceflight program. The test flight is a first look at a highly-anticipated set of capabilities which will allow astronauts to venture farther than ever before. The Planetary Society is pleased to see these new exploration capabilities develop and celebrates the successful test flight. We look forward to the next steps for Orion and NASA's human spaceflight program. The Planetary Society encourages the expansion of human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and, eventually, to Mars, and this successful test flight is a meaningful step toward this goal."
Orion Capsule Successfully Splashes Down in Pacific 1:27

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— Alan Boyle