hails Trump

Trump hails SpaceX’s 1st splashdown with NASA astronauts. Obama, too. –

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley give thumbs-up signs inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour onboard the GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on Aug. 2, 2src2src. 

(Image: © NASA/Bill Ingalls)

President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama hailed SpaceX’s first splashdown of NASA astronauts on Sunday (Aug. 2), a landmark feat that capped the first orbital space mission from the U.S. in nearly a decade. 

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour successfully splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, returning astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to Earth after two months in orbit. Their mission, the Demo-2 test flight, marked the first orbital flight of astronauts from America since 2011, when NASA’s last space shuttle mission touched down. It was also the first water landing for NASA since the joint U.S.-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

Related: Presidential visions for space exploration: From Ike to Trump

Full coverage: 
SpaceX’s historic Demo-2 Crew Dragon astronaut test flight

Great to have NASA Astronauts return to Earth after very successful two month mission. Thank you to all!August 2, 2020

“Great to have NASA astronauts return to Earth after very successful two-month mission. Thank you to all!” Trump wrote on Twitter after the splashdown. “Astronauts complete first splashdown in 45 years. Very exciting!” he added in a separate post.

Trump was on hand at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30 when SpaceX launched Behnken and Hurley into orbit. The astronauts, he said at the time, showed “pure American genius and courage.”

“They joined the ranks of just seven prior American astronauts who have made the perilous maiden voyage to test a new class of spacecraft,” Trump said after the launch. Trump has called on NASA to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024, which the agency is pursuing as part of its Artemis program.

SpaceX’s Demo-2 test flight marked the first crewed flight of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which has separately tapped SpaceX and Boeing to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX’s $2.6 billion contract calls for at least six crewed flights using its Crew Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rocket. 

Boeing’s deal is worth $4.6 billion for flights on its Starliner capsule and Atlas V rockets. The company plans a second uncrewed test flight of Starliner after its mission failed to reach the space station in December. 

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program began in 2010 during the Obama administration, so it was unsurprising to see the former U.S. president weigh in on SpaceX’s splashdown Sunday. 

“Welcome home, @AstroBehnken and @AstroDoug,” Obama wrote on Twitter Sunday. “We launched the Commercial Crew program to strengthen our U.S. space program and it’s been great to see its success.” 

Welcome home, @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug! We launched the Commercial Crew program to strengthen our U.S. space program and it’s been great to see its success. This historic NASA-SpaceX mission is a symbol of what American ingenuity and inventiveness can achieve. 2, 2020

Obama shared a photo of him meeting the astronauts at the White House. Behnken and Hurley’s selection to fly SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission was announced exactly two years ago today. 

“This historic NASA-SpaceX mission is a symbol of what American ingenuity and inventiveness can achieve,” Obama added Sunday.

SpaceX and NASA will now review every aspect of the Demo-2 test flight as they prepare to begin regular crewed flights to the station on Crew Dragon. 

The first of those missions, Crew-1, will launch four astronauts to the station in late September. Its successor, Crew-2, will launch another four astronauts in 2021. That Crew-2 mission will use the same Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule that splashed down on Sunday.

Email Tariq Malik at or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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Trump hails military, sidesteps flashpoints in address to West Point grads – POLITICO

“Each of you begins your career in the army at a crucial moment in American history,” Trump said. “We are restoring the fundamental principles that the job of the American soldier is not to rebuild foreign nations, but defend and defend strongly our nation from foreign enemies.”

It’s not the duty of U.S. troops “to solve ancient conflicts in far away lands that many people have never even heard of,” Trump told the cadets.

“We are not the policemen of the world, but let our enemies be on notice, if our people are threatened, we will never ever hesitate to act and when we fight, from now on, we will only fight to win,” Trump added.

Trump’s speech before the graduates comes during a contentious time in his relationship with the armed forces amid his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, have distanced themselves from actions Trump has taken in response to protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody, which have including deploying National Guard troops and discussing the activation of troops to quell peaceful demonstrations.

Esper said publicly he opposed the deployment of active troops and Milley on Thursday said his participation in a June 1 photo op with Trump at St. John’s Church near the White House was a “mistake” that tarnished the military’s hard-earned reputation as being divorced from politics.

Trump also this week publicly came out against removing the names of Confederate generals from military bases, saying his administration won’t consider the idea amid calls from former military leaders and senators of his own party to do so.

In his 29-minute address, Trump encouraged cadets to embrace the example set by past military commanders, including Union General Ulysses S. Grant, one of many West Point graduates whose statues ring the Plain.

“Right now, America needs a class of cadets by your model, with vision to lead,” Trump said. “We need you to carry on the spirit of the great General Ulysses S. Grant.”

Trump’s decision to speak in person with the cadets in New York — an epicenter for pandemic-related cases — had received widespread criticism over concerns the gathering could put the health of attendees at risk.

In his speech, Trump thanked the military for their contributions in helping to fight the outbreak.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all members of America’s armed forces in every branch, active duty, National Guard and reserve who step forward to help battle the invisible enemy, the new virus, that came to our shores from a distant land called China,” Trump said. “We will vanquish the virus, we will extinguish this plague.”

Cadets were required to quarantine for two weeks and be tested for the coronavirus before attending the speech, The New York Times reported on Friday.

The president is expected to return to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club Saturday afternoon, where he is scheduled to host a roundtable with some 15 supporters later in the day. According to an RNC official, the event is set to raise $3 million for “Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee benefiting the Trump campaign, RNC, and 22 state parties,” a pool report said.

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