NASA astronaut touts ‘great partnership’ with SpaceX ahead of historic launch
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Astronaut Rex Walheim on Saturday expressed confidence that NASA’s partnership with SpaceX will help the U.S. reach new frontiers in space.

Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked Walheim whether he thought the public-private alliance would “limit” NASA.

“No, I don’t think so,” Walheim responded. “It’s been a great partnership.”

“I’s a combination of the space flight history of NASA with the entrepreneurial spirit of SpaceX, and it’s worked out real well … We’ve had the time to go through all the tests and all the procedures, all of the development,and make sure we understand what they’re doing to make sure we’re comfortable with it,” he said.

“When we have questions, SpaceX is very open to answering them — and when they have questions, we’re very open to answering, too. It’s really worked out quite well, and I just can’t wait to see it get started here.”

SPACEX PREPARED FOR HISTORIC NASA MISSION TO LAUNCH ASTRONAUTS FROM US SOIL

Walheim’s interview came just before a historic launch in which a private company — SpaceX — will take astronauts into space.

The curtain rises Wednesday with the scheduled liftoff of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, taking two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station — a flight years in the making.

The drama unfolds in Florida at 4:33 p.m. EDT from the same launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center that sent men to the moon and the last space shuttle into orbit.

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Cavuto also asked Walheim whether he worried that partnering with private enterprise would allow their profit motive to overtake legitimate concerns with space travel.

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“We have to make space flight less expensive. To really commercialize low-earth orbit, we have to be able to get there cheaper. Don’t want to do it any less safe, and if we can advance the technology, which we are doing, you know, the SpaceX vehicle is much more advanced than the space shuttle was, and that allows us to make it safer.

“We don’t have necessarily oversight to tell them what to do all the time, but we have insight to say ‘OK, we see what you’re doing here, and we agree with this or we don’t agree with that,'” Walheim said.

“Together, you can make that pact where they can try to be as efficient but as safe as possible, and you can open up new frontiers basically by making access to space much cheaper.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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