Celebrating Three Decades of Private Space Exploration in Texas
This Sunday, Sept. 9, will mark the 30th anniversary of the first privately-funded rocket into space. And it took place in Texas.
On the morning of Sept. 9, 1982, Conestoga 1 soared into the skies over Matagorda Island, reaching a height of 160 miles before splashing down, as planned, in the Gulf of Mexico.
Conestoga 1 was the product of Houston-based Space Services, Inc., of America - headed up by Mercury 7 astronaut Donald "Deke" Slayton - and drew universal praise, including recognition from President Ronald Reagan.
The rocket launched from the ranch of legendary Dallas oilman Toddie Lee Wynne, who sadly passed away shortly before the launch.
Texas made a natural fit for the early days of space exploration because our state encompasses the values that make space travel possible, determination, innovation and a drive to accomplish what had never been done before.
Today, the dreams of visionaries like Deke Slayton and Toddie Lee Wynne live on in private space enterprises like SpaceX, XCOR and Blue Origin.
And, with XCOR expanding to Midland, Blue Origin in Van Horn, and SpaceX already in McGregor and looking at a possible commercial launch site in Brownsville, the legend of private space travel in Texas - while three decades old - is only beginning.