From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats
Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
"Thirty-two years ago today, on April 12, 1981, NASA astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen blasted into the record books on the world's first Space Shuttle flight, returning this Nation to human space flight after a nearly six year hiatus following the last Apollo-era flight. NASA, Rockwell International (now Boeing), Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin), Thiokol (now ATK), and the entire government/industrial team responsible for the design, construction, and flight of the spacecraft, as well as the crew of the Shuttle, were all recipients of the prestigious Collier Trophy. The Space Shuttle was a truly pioneering transportation system, a reusable vehicle that could take off from the Earth, enter and operate in space, and return to an Earth landing. After the flight of STS-135 in July 2011, the Space Shuttles were formally retired.
"Through its thirty years of service, the Space Shuttle, by virtue of its unmatched cargo carrying capacity, allowed NASA to launch and refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope as well as build and resupply the International Space Station (ISS). Our young were energized into imagining the impossible. In turn, some of our best and brightest were inspired to become scientists and engineers.
"Today, NASA and industry partners are making good progress on the development, test, and integration of both the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), the next generation of human space exploration vehicles. An important test of Orion is planned for next year, and an unmanned Orion/SLS mission is scheduled for 2017. Under current plans, the first crewed flight of Orion/SLS is scheduled for no earlier than 2021--a ten year hiatus in NASA human spaceflight capability. That's a long time, and I hope that Congress and the Administration can work together to help NASA accelerate the achievement of that capability
"So as we observe the 32nd anniversary of the first Space Shuttle mission, as well as the day that more than a half-century ago the first human ventured into space, I believe that we should dedicate ourselves to continuing to move forward with both our human and robotic exploration of the wonders of space. The next generation of Americans is counting on us."
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