The flawless launch of a manned SpaceX Dragon capsule is a symbol of the resurgent power of the United States, President Donald Trump said Saturday.
The capsule, carrying astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, roared into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as part of a mission to take Hurley and Behnken to the International Space Station.
In remarks delivered after the successful launch, Trump called Cape Canaveral “this storied home of American daring, aspiration, and drive,” calling the successful launch of the SpaceX Dragon capsule “the first big space message in 50 years.”
Trump, an enthusiastic supporter of space-related programs, framed the launch as part of America’s return to greatness.
“With this launch, the decades of lost years and little action are officially over. A new age of American ambition has now begun. Past leaders put the United States at the mercy of foreign nations to send our astronauts into orbit. Not anymore. Today, we once again proudly launch American astronauts on American rockets, the best in the world, from right here on American soil,” Trump said (about the 10:30 mark on the video below).
Trump said the bottom line of the launch was that the United States is back as a leader in space.
“The United States has regained our place of prestige as the world leader,” Trump said (about the 22:15 mark). “As has often been stated, you can’t be number one on Earth if you are number two in space. And we are not going to be number two anywhere.”
The whole speech can be seen here:
Trump took a moment in his speech to salute SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who Trump said “truly embodies the American ethos of big thinking and risk-taking.”
He also praised the astronauts — who are both, according to The New York Times, former Air Force pilots who achieved the rank of colonel,
“What Colonel Douglas Hurley and Colonel Robert Behnken did this afternoon was pure American genius and courage,” Trump said.
Trump contrasted his administration’s progress in space with what he termed the retrenchment of the Obama era.
“The last administration presided over the closing of the Space Shuttle and almost all of the giant facility that keeps so many people working, so many brilliant minds going. People were crying. They were devastated. But now it’s the greatest of its kind anywhere in the world and will get greater and greater with years to come. I promise you that,” Trump said.
Trump said the U.S. is now looking forward to a return to the moon and the first mission to Mars.
“In the years ahead, America will go bigger, bolder, further, faster, and America will go first,” Trump said about the 25:20 mark. “America will always be first.”
The capsule successfully docked with the space station Sunday morning after sharing images of Earth from space.
What does our home planet look like from @SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour? Watch as @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug take you inside the spacecraft and provide an update about our #LaunchAmerica mission: pic.twitter.com/f8b3CrSEPE
— NASA (@NASA) May 31, 2020
— NASA (@NASA) May 31, 2020
Trump, who watched the capsule lift-off, offered his impressions of the sight, according to a White House media pool report.
“When you see a sight like that, it’s incredible. The power of that machine and the danger — no matter how you figure. When you — when you hear that sound, and you hear all of that — the roar — you can imagine how dangerous it is. When you feel the shake — and we’re very far away, but you feel the shake over here — it’s pretty — pretty amazing.
“A beautiful sight. A beautiful ship, too. That’s really a beauty. Considered a beauty. I would say it’s a beauty,” he said
“But this was a tremendous sight to see. I had no idea when you — you know, I said, ‘Would you hear anything?’ Because we’re quite a distance away. And then, all of a sudden, you hear that roar, and its incredible, the power.
“You wouldn’t [know] that machine, as big as it is — it looks small from here — could have the kind of power, that kind of — make that kind of sound or that vibration,” Trump said. “But it’s really something special.”