Trump will watch SpaceX's 1st astronaut launch for NASA in person

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Update: White House officials confirmed May 22 that President Donald Trump will watch SpaceX's first crew launch for NASA from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

When SpaceX and NASA launch astronauts into orbit on an American rocket from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011 next week, President Donald Trump just might be there. 

Trump told reporters at the White House today that he may fly to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the historic Demo-2 mission's launch from Cape Canaveral. Two NASA astronauts will ride a SpaceX Crew Dragon in the historic test flight. Liftoff is set for May 27.

"I'm thinking about going. That'll be next week, to the rocket launch. I hope you're all going to join me," Trump told reporters as he headed to Michigan to visit a Ford plant that is now making ventilators to help fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"I'd like to put you all on the rocket and get rid of you for awhile," he added jokingly.

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SpaceX's Demo-2 mission will launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on a months-long trip to the International Space Station. It is SpaceX's first crewed flight for NASA under a multibillion-dollar contract for astronaut taxi flights to the station. 

The mission is also NASA's first human spaceflight mission to launch from Florida since the agency's shuttle fleet retired in 2011. Since then, NASA has relied solely on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to fly American astronauts to the space station. 

Those Soyuz seats are pricey. This month, NASA announced that it's agreed to pay $90 million to Russia's space agency for a seat on a launch later this year. The deal with SpaceX (as well as a second contract with Boeing) are aimed at reducing that cost and fostering a new commercial spaceflight industry in the United States.

Trump has also directed NASA to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 and established the new U.S. Space Force to over see American military interests in space.

Visit daily for complete coverage of SpaceX's Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight. 

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

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.