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23 May, 2020 17:36

Trump to attend manned SpaceX launch – should journalists be worried?

Trump to attend manned SpaceX launch – should journalists be worried?

President Donald Trump will attend the upcoming launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Before confirming his attendance, Trump joked that he’d like to launch journalists into space to “get rid” of them.

The president will travel to Florida for Wednesday’s launch, a White House official confirmed on Friday. 

The launch will be the first manned spaceflight from the US since 2011, and will see NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken blast off from the Kennedy Space Center before docking with the International Space Station. The launch will also be the first time a private company has launched humans into space.

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Trump has long been a supporter of private space flight, declaring in 2018 that Elon Musk’s company shows “American ingenuity at its best.” Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council that year, Trump stated that “our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security.” Two years later, the president’s long-promised Space Force has been instituted as a new branch of the US military, and dropped its first recruitment video this month.

Earlier this week, Trump revealed a tongue-in-cheek plan to make involuntary astronauts out of the White House press corps. Asked whether he’d be attending next week’s launch, Trump quipped to a reporter that he’d “like to put you in the rocket and get rid of you for a while.”

While Trump’s adversarial stance against the media likely won’t extend to bundling the press corps into a rocket, he can probably expect some testy exchanges with reporters if he takes questions in Florida. Trump’s refusal to wear a face mask during a tour of a Ford plant in Michigan this week led to howls of derision from the media and prompted the state’s Attorney General to declare him unwelcome there again.

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