The campaign to re-elect President Trump pulled SpaceX, NASA and astronauts and their families into a campaign video that appeared to violate the space agency’s advertising regulations.
The video released on Wednesday was the President’s recent effort to translate his responsibility for US space policy into an optimistic campaign problem. It contained images of two NASA astronauts, Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley, which were fired on board a SpaceX rocket on Saturday. For the first time since 2011, astronauts from the United States have entered orbit.
The campaign removed the video from YouTube on Thursday evening, but not before more than 4,000 people signed a Change.org petition aimed at “preventing Donald Trump from politicizing the achievements of SpaceX and NASA.”
Karen L. Nyberg, a retired astronaut married to Mr. Hurley, posted a message on Twitter that she and her 10-year-old son should be banned from political campaigns.
The nearly three-minute campaign video titled “Make Space Great Again” was interrupted between President John F. Kennedy’s speech in 1962, which set the goal of landing on the moon by the end of the decade. The 2018 Apollo 11 mission video footage from President Trump’s speech that promises new space achievements and a launch on Saturday.
NASA makes its images and videos freely available for news organizations and non-commercial purposes. However, advertising requests are handled much more strictly. While the campaign does not explicitly mention political campaigns, it says, “As a government agency, NASA will not promote or appear to promote or promote a commercial product, service, or activity.”
The regulations also state: “Astronauts or employees currently employed by NASA may not display their names, similarities, or other personality traits in advertisements or marketing materials.”
Neither SpaceX, NASA, nor the Trump campaign replied to emails asking them to comment on Thursday evening.
Unlike his predecessors, who generally emphasized Republican and Democratic support for the space program, President Trump has been more partisan about NASA.
After the launch, he made a solemn speech at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, thanking a list of politicians for the support of NASA – all Republicans. During the speech, he also presented the space program as dying when he took office in 2017 and paid tribute to the revival of NASA’s manned space program.
“When I first came into office three and a half years ago, NASA was lost,” he said. He criticized the Obama administration and said it “directed the closure of the space shuttle.”
That and other claims in the speech were exaggerated. While Mr. Trump highlighted elements of space policy in his White House, The NASA program that launched SpaceX on Saturday started in 2009 during President Barack Obama’s first term.
It was headed by Charles F. Bolden Jr., a retired major-general of the United States Marine Corps, who served as NASA administrator during the Obama administration, and has often met with opposition from Congress in Republicanism who criticized the commercial occupation and raised money for it other programs turned away.
Current administrator, Jim Bridenstine, invited Mr. Bolden to the launch and praised the previous administrator’s efforts to get the commercial crew going.
Mr. Bolden said he had doubts at the beginning of his time at NASA that companies like SpaceX were able to launch people.
“I just didn’t think they could do it,” he said.
SpaceX had already signed a contract for the transportation of cargo to the space station, which was signed under President George W. Bush. “And they have shown over time that they are pretty good,” said Mr. Bolden.
He also paid tribute to the Trump administration for continuing on this path. “As I said to Jim Bridenstine,” said Mr. Bolden, “whatever happens on your watch, take it well.”
Mr. Bolden said he was “a little annoyed, as I imagine most people associated with NASA”, about the campaign video.
But he added: “Anyone who is surprised did not pay attention.”