Just before the SpaceX launch was scrubbed due to poor weather conditions, President Donald Trump and SpaceX founder Elon Musk were seen exchanging kind words. Both Trump and Musk were present for the Wednesday scheduled liftoff, in which NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were set to make history as the first astronauts to liftoff from American soil in nine years.
Trump and Elon Musk exchange kind words as part of today's NASA SpaceX launch. pic.twitter.com/zHWzwl14xI— The Recount (@therecount) May 27, 2020
In a moment captured shortly before takeoff, the president, with First Lady Melania Trump sitting beside him, was heard praising Musk and his team and their efforts to launch its first crewed spaceflight. Had it gone according to plan, Crew Dragon Demo-2 would have been the first time humans have taken off for space from American soil since the NASA Space Shuttle program's final mission in 2011 and would have also marked the first crewed spaceflight from a private company.
Stating that Musk has "been a friend of mine for a long time" and is somebody he has "great respect for," the president acknowledged that this has been something Musk has put a great deal of effort into. Trump said that Musk is "always thinking about this," and while the SpaceX found has "plenty to think about," this has been his "baby." Musk seemed to agree, telling Trump and the others in the room that "this is the top focus," revealing that he's told his "team that it's not simply the top priority, it is the only priority."
Commenting on Crew Dragon, the SpaceX capsule that will carry astronauts into space, and Flacon 9, the 230 feet tall reusable, two-stage rocket, Trump said "it looks beautiful" and "magnificent." He added that "we won't say congratulations, because we have a long way to go."
Trump's hesitance to congratulate a successful liftoff turned out to be justified. With just 17 minutes to the scheduled 4:33 p.m. ET launch, officials called off the historic flight from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, citing weather conditions. Officials had been surveying the weather throughout the day, with the Air Force's 45th Space Wing saying Monday that the launch had a 40 percent probability. According to WESH, SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule requires calm waves and wind conditions along the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada and in the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Ireland in case the crew needs to make an emergency splashdown.
The launch has since been rescheduled to Saturday at 3:22 p.m. ET. In the event of another delay, the third attempt at liftoff will be made Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.