President Donald Trump will attend the takeoff of a SpaceX spacecraft with two NASA astronauts on Wednesday that will be the first manned space flight in nine years from the United States, the White House said Saturday.
Determined to mark a return to normality in his country after months of confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the president went to play golf on Saturday at his club in Virginia, near Washington, for the first time since March 8 .
“Our destiny, beyond Earth, is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security,” said the president in the statement announcing his presence at the place in the state of Florida where the launch will take place. space.
Takeoff is scheduled for Wednesday at 4:33 pm local time (8:33 pm GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center.
A Falcon 9 rocket from the SpaceX company, founded in California by Elon Musk, will transport the Crew Dragon capsule, developed by the company for NASA, with which it has signed contracts for more than 3 billion dollars since the last decade.
The two astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, will arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) 19 hours after launch and will remain on it for several months.
Weather conditions could be adverse on launch day and the probability of postponing it is 60%, according to forecasts published on Saturday by the Cape Canaveral military base, bordering the Kennedy center.
It will be the first time that American astronauts have taken off from their country since the cessation of space travel in 2011, after 30 years of service.
Since then, only Russians have had a means of transport to the ISS and dozens of American (and foreign) astronauts have learned Russian and been transported by Soyuz rockets, departing from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Since 2000, the ISS has been permanently occupied by Americans and Russians.
Upon his arrival at the White House in 2017, Trump gave NASA fresh impetus by ordering him to speed up the return to the Moon in 2024, rather than 2028, as originally planned, a very difficult goal to achieve that sparked a confrontation with the space agency.
This lunar trip, named Artemis, will be made with a heavy rocket (SLS) and a capsule with wide autonomy (Orion), totally different from those developed by SpaceX for the ISS.
Elon Musk’s company has entered a tender for the moon landing that will transport American astronauts who will land on the Earth satellite for the first time since 1972.