President Donald Trump has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where he will watch the historic Crew Dragon space launch. The Demo-2 mission represents a big leap forward in the world of space travel, and the cooperation of Elon Musk's private company SpaceX and the U.S. government's NASA program. Trump was enthusiastic about the collaboration.
The launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is the first time humans have traveled into space since 2011. It is also the first time NASA has allowed astronauts to travel into space in a craft built by a private company. The launch itself is taking place in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Trump is expected to tour the Kennedy Space Center, then give a speech after the launch.
Welcome to Launch Day 🚀
Live #LaunchAmerica coverage starts at 12:15pm ET. Liftoff is at 4:33pm ET.
Let’s light this candle!— NASA (@NASA) May 27, 2020
Trump is in attendance with Vice President Mike Pence and First Lady Melania Trump. Thousands of people are expected to watch, though crowds were limited as much as possible due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday morning, former NASA administrator and astronaut, Charles Bolden appeared on MSNBC, where he said that the virus put some of the workers on this project at risk. "I'm concerned about the safety of the people involved, but I am not concerned that it will impact the launch," Bolden said.
The launch was scheduled for 4:33 p.m. ET on Wednesday afternoon, though there was some concern about the weather conditions in Florida. Forecasts showed a possibility of storms, which could interfere with the launch. It was timed precisely to propel the astronauts to the International Space Station, and any delay could throw them off due to the earth's rotation.
Trump's visit to Florida comes with some earthly interests as well, according to a report by NBC News. The president is reportedly eager to resume campaigning for the 2020 election, and Florida is an important battleground state for him. He narrowly won Florida by one point in the 2016 election, and has since made the state his official residence.
Current polls show former Vice President Joe Biden leading by three points in Florida right now, though the president has been making more and more visits there in the last month. With a historic space launch now taking place there, the optics are good for a positive reception. While some critics wonder why the launch was allowed to carry on while so many businesses have been forced to shut down, NASA's Jim Bridenstine told CNN he hopes the launch will "inspire awe and uplift the general public" during this tumultuous time. The SpaceX launch is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. ET precisely, pending any weather delays or interference.