Earlier today, a privately funded spacecraft docked with the International Space Station for the first time. As Bloomberg’s Brendan McGarry reports:

Closely held SpaceX, controlled by billionaire Elon Musk, connected its unmanned Dragon capsule to the station at 12:02 p.m. New York time, according to Kyle Herring, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is the first company to accomplish the feat.

“This is truly a momentous accomplishment for SpaceX and for the industry,” Michael Lopez-Alegria, president of the Washington-based Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said in a statement. The country is on its way to having a cost-effective space transportation system, he said, and SpaceX should be thanked for “restoring U.S. access to the space station.”

That’s pretty awesome, and shines a light on just how powerful private investment can be when it comes to innovation and moving America forward — a message not lost on the White House. As the Associated Press reports (via FoxNews):

The White House quickly offered congratulations.

“Every launch into space is a thrilling event, but this one is especially exciting,” said John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s chief science adviser. “This expanded role for the private sector will free up more of NASA’s resources to do what NASA does best — tackle the most demanding technological challenges in space, including those of human space flight beyond low Earth orbit.”

As competition between private companies helps further America’s reach into the stars, it’s worth remembering competition and private investment are having an equally important effect here on the ground. With broadband — especially mobile broadband — driving our new digital economy, ensuring private companies continue to compete and invest to build out increasingly powerful networks will be critical.

Remember, President Obama has set the goal of connecting everyone to mobile broadband. Just as the private sector will make it possible for NASA to set their sites on Mars, private companies can achieve the President’s goal and allow the government to focus its attentions and resources on other matters critical for America’s future.