NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Friday that in May, America’s space program would do something it hasn’t done since 2011.
Bridenstine tweeted that NASA, in partnership with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, would launch the Dragon spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and carry astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station.
The flight is the Dragon program’s first manned test in orbit and has been dubbed “Launch America.”
BREAKING: On May 27, @NASA will once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil! With our @SpaceX partners, @Astro_Doug and @AstroBehnken will launch to the @Space_Station on the #CrewDragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Let’s #LaunchAmerica a href=”https://t.co/RINb3mfRWI”>pic.twitter.com/RINb3mfRWI
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) April 17, 2020
Former President Barack Obama formally ended NASA’s manned-flight programs in 2011, after the Atlantis Space Shuttle completed its final mission.
“I have tasked the men and women of NASA with an ambitious new mission: to break new boundaries in space exploration, ultimately sending Americans to Mars,” he stated at the time. “I know they are up to the challenge – and I plan to be around to see it.”
President Donald Trump expanded on Obama’s hopes for landing astronauts on Mars and has frequently spoken on the subject in campaign rallies and even his State of the Union addresses. (RELATED: ‘The Land Of Heroes’: Trump’s 2020 State Of The Union Outlines America’s Bipartisan ‘Next Step Forward’)
He also signed a directive in late 2019 to form the Space Force, the first new United States military branch to be founded in the past 70 years.
“Space is the world’s new war-fighting domain,” Trump said of Space Force. “Among grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, and very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”
White House assistant press secretary Austin Cantrell told Daily Caller that Friday’s announcement shows Trump is “delivering on his promise to restore the American space enterprise and once again make the United States the world’s leading spacefaring nation.”
“NASA’s announcement that it will again launch American astronauts from American soil is further evidence of President Trump’s commitment to American leadership in space,” he continued. “While the previous Administration failed to show international leadership in human space exploration and left NASA and its partners adrift, President Trump has reinvigorated NASA and ushered in the next chapter of American space exploration.”