US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — “A spectacular and unforgettable launch!”
Come to attend Saturday in Florida what NASA calls the dawn of a new space era, Donald Trump wanted to make this day a celebration of “the return of America”.
The dispatch, in many historical respects, of two American astronauts into space aboard a SpaceX rocket was successful.
But in the United States and around the world, not everyone had their eyes turned to the sky.
Anger over the death of a black man, George Floyd, after his arrest by the Minneapolis police, shook the country from east to west.
During the journey in Air Force One to Florida, the two screens located in the press area at the back of the aircraft summarized this strange day.
On Fox News, the chain of choice in the presidential plane during the Trump era, the two realities were intertwined. Desolate scenes in Minneapolis. Scenes of intense preparations and scientific profusion on the legendary site of the Kennedy space center.
Donald Trump himself did not stop moving from one subject to another throughout the day. Just before landing, he lashed out at Minneapolis “thugs” on Twitter, assuring that 80% were not from Minnesota.
Three minutes later, he enthusiastically expressed his hope that the SpaceX launch would be a resounding success.
The Kennedy Center is a place steeped in history: it was here that Neil Armstrong and his Apollo 11 mission teammates took off on July 16, 1969 for a flight that would allow them to set foot on the moon.
Arrived fifteen minutes before takeoff on the small platform arranged so that he can attend this historic moment, he savored.
Wearing his emblematic red tie, the very one he almost always wears on campaign stands, he smiles at the journalists present, takes the break, thumbs up.
“How much time do we have? One minute?” Very relaxed, he ends up turning to the rocket, vice-president Mike Pence at his side.
– “Such power!” –
The ground trembles, the moment is strong, the emotion palpable.
As soon as the rocket is no longer visible in the sky, Mr. Trump turns to the journalists, applauds. And starts talking.
“Suddenly you hear this noise, it’s incredible, this power,” he says, all smiles, after the launch of two NASA astronauts into space for the first time in almost ten years.
“You have a hard time believing that this machine, as big as it is – it looks small seen from here – can have such a power to make a noise or a vibration like this”.
He praises American ingenuity: “America will always be first”. He talks about the future, an expedition to Mars.
Five months before the presidential election where he will run for a second four-year term, he insists that this flight loaded with promises will be one of the markers of his presidency.
He is careful not to salute the work of his two predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who launched this long-standing idea: to subcontract access to space to the private sector.
Only two U.S. presidents attended a launch before Donald Trump: Richard Nixon in 1969 and Bill Clinton in 1998.
The reason is twofold: the risk of cancellation at the last moment due to the vagaries of bad weather, and that of being associated with terrible images if the adventure goes wrong.
The bet paid off for Donald Trump, who returned to Florida for the day after a failed first attempt on Wednesday.
At the beginning of his speech from the mythical space center, he returned to the death of George Floyd, saying “to understand” the pain and strongly denouncing the violence.
“Healing is not hate, justice is not chaos,” he said, denouncing “looters and anarchists” who spread violence.
But when he returns to Washington, he knows that he will have to respond, over time, to a deep crisis in a bruised country where old wounds have been reopened.
After having sent contradictory signals for several days, the 45th President of the United States will have to find the right tone to try to ease the tensions.
His words will be scrutinized with special attention. For for his detractors as for many observers of American society, he has been playing, for several years, a dangerous game on racial questions.
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