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NASA Launches First Man-Based Space Mission Since 2011
Trump admin revitalizing U.S. domestic program as Russia, China stake claims in space
By Adam Kredo, May 30, 2020:
NASA launched its first man-based space mission since 2011 on Saturday, revitalizing America’s domestic space program which has remained largely dormant over the last decade, as Russia and China have sought to militarize the domain above Earth.
The launch, which will send two astronauts to the International Space Station, marks the first American space mission using a commercially constructed rocket designed by SpaceX, owned by tech billionaire Elon Musk. It also marked the first American-based space trip since the NASA shuttle program was abandoned in 2011. Since that time, NASA has relied on Russia for its trips to the ISS, paying upwards of $50 million a seat on that country’s rocket systems.
The Trump administration is seeking to shift the paradigm, bringing both space exploration and defense back into America’s domain. In addition to Saturday’s joint commercial launch with NASA, the administration marked the first successful launch of its Space Force military program earlier this year. These efforts, officials said, are meant to counter the growing influence of Russia and China in space, where both countries are seeking a military advantage.
“President Trump and Vice President Pence have reinvigorated America’s leadership in space,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told the Washington Free Beacon ahead of the scheduled launch. “From establishing the Artemis program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024, to restoring human spaceflight by once again launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil for the first time since 2011.”
Commercial space exploration, Bridenstine said, will not only bolster the U.S. economy, but also ensure America remains a leader in space as traditional foes like Russia and China race to militarize it.
“As commercial markets in space grow, American economic security requires physical security,” Bridenstine said. “President Trump established the Space Force to achieve that end. President Trump has kept his promise to restore the United States as the preeminent spacefaring nation.”
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