SpaceX may welcome Trump and Pence at historic launch

NASA astronauts will launch on SpaceX rocket Wednesday

Vice President Mike Pence said he plans to attend the historic SpaceX launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center next week.

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President Trump may also attend the launch, officials said.

The mission will be the final test for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft before it enters regular service. It will also mark the first time astronauts launch into orbit aboard a private company’s spacecraft, and it will also be the first launch of American astronauts in an American-made spacecraft since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft undergoes final processing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in preparation for the Demo-2 launch. (SpaceX via NASA)

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“I know how important the space enterprise is here in the history of Florida,” Pence said during another visit to the state Wednesday. “And I want to tell you, President Trump and I know the history of space that will be written is going to be greater still.”

Gov. Rick DeSantis said “the big guy” may also be on hand for the launch.

“He’s been a great advocate for the space industry, in terms of NASA and also the private sector,” he said. “That’s been a huge driver here in the state of Florida. They continue to do good things even through this pandemic and will continue going forward.”

Vice President Mike Pence gestures as he speaks to the media with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after delivering personal protective equipment to Westminster Baldwin Park, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

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Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will launch on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets and pilot the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, where they will remain for an as-yet-unspecified amount of time.

Both astronauts are veterans of NASA’s Space Shuttle program who are now serving in the Commercial Crew Program, the agency’s partnership with private businesses, including SpaceX.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken familiarize themselves with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. (SpaceX via NASA)

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The launch is scheduled for May 27.

NASA officials are planning to send people to the surface of the moon in 2024 as part of the public-private partnerships.

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Kristin Fisher of Fox News contributed to this report.