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Trump to attend SpaceX launch in Florida

The Hill logo The Hill 5/22/2020 Morgan Chalfant
a close up of smoke: Trump to attend SpaceX launch in Florida © UPI Photo Trump to attend SpaceX launch in Florida

President Trump will attend a major SpaceX launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida next Wednesday, according to a White House official.

NASA astronauts are scheduled to fly on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft on May 27, lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center complex at Cape Canaveral. It will be the first time that NASA has launched astronauts from the United States to the International Space Station since 2011.

The flight will mark the last flight test for the Crew Dragon spacecraft before it enters regular service. The capsule will blast off with a Falcon 9 rocket.

Trump acknowledged Thursday that he was considering attending the launch in Florida. The trip will be Trump's fourth to a battleground state in the same number of weeks and will mark his first trip not related to the federal response to the novel coronavirus.

Trump has made space operations a priority during his administration, touting the establishment of the U.S. Space Force - the sixth branch of the U.S. military - in a defense policy bill negotiated and signed in December.

Trump's three prior trips outside Washington in recent weeks include a visit Thursday to a Ford Motor Company plant in Michigan producing ventilators and other protective equipment to help front-line health care workers combat the pandemic. He has made similar trips to Pennsylvania and Arizona.

Florida represents a key battleground state for the president as he seeks reelection; Trump won the state narrowly in 2016. The RealClearPolitics polling index shows former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, with a slight edge over the president in the Sunshine State.

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