Last Wednesday, while on a visit to Florida, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed to reporters he would “be back in a week.” As the Washington Times reported, he said, “It’s great to be in Florida because I’m going to be back in a week, because not too far from here, for the first time in almost 10 years, we’re going to send American astronauts back to space in American rockets from Kennedy Space.”
Then the next day, almost in passing, President Donald Trump made a joke about it — which everybody except the press found funny:
Looking forward to the pearl-clutching from this https://t.co/6gzc172Y6Y
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) May 21, 2020
But the seriousness of the occasion – the return of U.S. manned space flight after nine years – will be evident Wednesday. According to Phys.org, “President Donald Trump will become only the third US leader to watch the take-off of a human space flight in person, after Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.” The publication also shared some positive news, especially for the rain-soaked Sunshine State: there’s a 60 percent chance of good weather for the launch.
It added some details, that the mission is:
to carry the astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), which orbits the Earth about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above sea-level at about 17,000 miles per hour.
It can’t be downplayed how meaningful it is for Americans to be going back into space under our own rocket. In fact, the SpaceX rocket, known as the Crew Dragon, will be taking off on the exact same pad that launched the Apollo 11 on its historic trip to the moon in 1969, News4Jax reported. For my parents’ generation, that mission was the culmination ofPresident John F. Kennedy‘s promise in 1961 to get a man on the moon before the decade was out.
The two astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, will strap into the Demo-2 capsule and be ready for a scheduled launch at 4:33 Eastern time, but there are contingency alternatives ready for Saturday or Sunday. There are many ways to watch the launch live, but here are a few: on this page at SpaceX’s site, starting around four hours before launch, or on the Discovery and Science channel, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
The vice president and the president will be joined at the Cape Canaveral, FL, launch by the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, who you might remember made waves of his own during a Wuhan flu press conference.
And who knows? Maybe Florida’s conservative governor and the president can take the opportunity to give the mainstream media – if not a ride into space – then some verbal fireworks.
Here’s “Space Oddity” by David Bowie — a song which was released the week of the Apollo 11 launch and became connected with it from BBC’s playing it during coverage:
Will you be watching along with Pres. Trump? Share your thoughts on this historic moment in the comments area below!