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AFP
May 24, 2020

Trump to attend Florida launch of SpaceX flight

World

AFP
May 24, 2020

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will attend the May 27 launch of two astronauts aboard a SpaceX mission -- the first crewed space flight from US soil in nine years, the White House said Saturday.

"Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security," Trump said in a statement ahead of the visit, which will underline his push for a return to work in the US amid the coronavirus pandemic.

US astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are scheduled to blast off from Kennedy's historic Launch Pad 39A at 4:33 pm on Wednesday for the International Space Station, arriving the next day.

The mission is seen as a crucial step towards ending American dependence on Russian rockets.

Asked about going ahead with the mission in the midst of the pandemic, Behnken told reporters: "Where there's a will, there's a way." Behnken and Hurley have been in strict quarantine since May 13, but they said their actual isolation began as far back as mid-March.

However, the launch plan could be hit by bad weather, with a 60 percent of a postponement according to official forecasts.