The re-airing of a 60 Minutes segment last month about SpaceX generated some criticism from Apollo-era officials that they were unfairly portrayed as being negative about SpaceX, which led a few weeks later to a clarification from 60 Minutes host Scott Pelley that Neil Armstrong in particular had not testified against commercial space. All this, as previously noted, came only after the second airing of the segment, shortly after SpaceX’s successful flight to the ISS, and not after CBS originally broadcast the piece in March.
This story does have a happy ending of sorts, though. Earlier this week venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, whose investments include SpaceX, posted a photo of a gift he was sending SpaceX founder Elon Musk: a picture of a Falcon 9 launch signed by nine Apollo astronauts. The astronauts offered congratulations to Musk and SpaceX for their recent achievement. “A real breakthrough – much success on many flights to come!” signed Fred Haise of Apollo 13 fame. Even Gene Cernan, who had been critical of commercial spaceflight providers in the past—he legendarily said in Senate testimony in 2010 that such companies “do not yet know what they don’t know”—offered his congratulations and advice to the company: “Congratulations on a job well done – now the challenge begins.”
Jurvetson writes that he originally sought to get Cernan to tour SpaceX’s facility, but had no luck. He finally approached Cernan about signing the photo after getting other astronauts to sign it, eventually winning over the astronaut with how SpaceX and Musk persevered through early failures to achieve their recent success. “As I told him these stories of heroic entrepreneurship, I could see his mind turning,” Jurvetson wrote. “He found a reconciliation: ‘I never read any of this in the news. Why doesn’t the press report on this?’”