President Donald Trump plans to be on the Florida coast on Wednesday to watch American astronauts fly into space from the Kennedy Space Center for the first time in more than a decade. It is the first time since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011 that American astronauts enter space aboard an American rocket from the United States.
Also new Wednesday: a private company – not NASA – is leading the show. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the driver and NASA is the customer, while companies take astronauts to the International Space Station.
The launch of the NASA / SpaceX commercial crew flight test will transport NASA # 39; The latest test pilots, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. They fly from the 39A launch pad, the same as Apollo astronauts used to come to the moon.
The move to private companies will allow NASA to focus on deep space travel. The space agency is working to return astronauts to the moon by order of the White House by 2024, but that deadline seems increasingly unlikely, even when three newly elected commercial teams are rushing to develop lunar landings. Mars is also waving. The White House portrayed the launch as an extension of Trump’s promise to assert U.S. dominance in space. He recently oversaw the creation of the Space Force as the sixth arm of the Armed Forces.
“Our fate, beyond Earth, is not just a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,” Trump said in a statement. Vice President Mike Pence, president of the National Space Council, also plans to attend Wednesday’s launch.