Trump is encouraged to attend next week of Rep. Michael Waltz, a Republican from northeast Florida whose district includes the northern tip of Cape Canaveral but not the actual launch site. Waltz, in an interview Friday, said Trump had “cracked up” when the two men discussed the importance of the event in the evolution of the US space program.
“With everything going on, the reunion of America, the reunification of our economy, the reunion of Florida, the symbolism that I think is really exciting,” said Waltz, who is planning to fly aboard Air Force One from Washington with Trump at the event.
Trump resumed his trip about three weeks ago after spending nearly two months in the White House in the coronavius outbreak. This will be his first non-pandemic trip. Vice President Mike Pence will also attend, his office said Friday. A White House official confirming Trump̵7;s attendance spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the trip yet to be announced.
The launch of the test, named the Demo-2 mission, will mark the first time NASA will send astronauts into orbit aboard a spacecraft built by a private company. The president has garnered a lot of praise for the SpaceX owner in the past, calling Musk “one of our great geniuses” and comparing him to inventor Thomas Edison. Muscle, in recent weeks on Twitter, has been confined to coronavirus-related shutdowns. Last week, he opened a Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Against local policies. Trump praised the move.
This will be the first crew of US astronauts launched from American soil since the completion of the space shuttle program in 2011. The spacecraft will take off from Launch Complex 39A, the pad used by Apollo astronauts to reach Months, travel to the International Space Station.
“President Trump continues to deliver on his promise to re-evaluate American dominance in space,” a White House official said, referring to the establishment of the Space Force, the sixth branch of the armed services.
On June 18, 2018, Trump appointed the Defense Department to begin establishing the Space Force. It is officially established December 6, 2019.
This is the second high-profile event this year as Waltz encouraged Trump to attend his newly adopted home state. Waltz also encouraged the president to approach the Daytona 500 in February. “NASCAR and NASA – this is what we do, who we are, it’s in our DNA,” Waltz said in an interview.
Waltz said it made sense for Trump to attend the launch because he pushed for an updated focus on space exploration, including the creation of the Space Force.
“He appreciates how important it is to the Florida economy, how important it is to the nation,” said Waltz, noting that since 2011 Americans have had to leave space from Russia. He said Trump called it “ridiculous” that the United States had not launched a spacecraft from American soil and vowed “never again.”
“I don’t think many Americans realize that we have to ‘mother’ the Russians over the last decade to get our astronauts in,” Waltz said.
Trump’s visit will come months before he hopes to win Florida to help with the reelection strategy. He kicked off his reelection campaign in Florida, a state he narrowly won by nearly 113,00 votes on Hillary Clinton four years ago.
Trump joked to reporters at the White House earlier this week that he would attend the launch. “I’m thinking of going, and next week, to launch a rocket,” he said. “I hope you all can be with me. I want to put you in the rocket, get rid of me for a long time.”
Pence, who had previously announced his trip to Florida, will also be in attendance. This will be his second trip to Florida a week after visiting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Thursday to tout the state opening in the middle of the pandemic.
“It’s great to be in Florida because I’ll be back in a week, because not too far from here, for the first time in almost 10 years, we’re sending American astronauts back into space with American rockets from the Kennedy Space [Center], “Pence said.
“He is a great advocate for the space industry, both in terms of NASA and also in the private sector,” DeSantis responded. “That’s a big driver here in the state of Florida. They continue to do great things even through this pandemic and will move forward.”