President Trump’s re-election campaign has come under fire for posting a promotional video titled “Make Space Great Again,” which was quickly removed after it was found to violate NASA regulations.
On Wednesday, June 3, the video was uploaded to YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook by Trump’s campaign. It focused on SpaceX and NASA’s historic Crew Dragon launch last weekend, the first launch of humans on a commercial rocket.
The video blended footage of the Apollo 11 lunar landing in 1969, along with Democratic President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech at Rice University in Texas in 1962, with footage of the recent launch.
President Trump was also shown making a speech in 2018 at the National Space Council in the White House. “Together, there is absolutely nothing Americans can’t do,” he said. “Now we are ready to begin the next great chapter of American space exploration.”
However, the video appeared to include materials from both NASA and SpaceX. The former does not allow its astronauts or its materials to be used for advertising or marketing purposes, while it’s unclear if the latter had allowed their footage to be used – which included shots of some of their staff and their CEO, Elon Musk.
“As a government agency, NASA will not promote or endorse or appear to promote or endorse a commercial product, service or activity,” NASA’s regulations state. “Therefore, there are strict limits placed on the use of any of the NASA identities and emblem imagery in advertisements.”
The video was removed from all official channels yesterday, Thursday, June 4. However, it can still be quite easily viewed online, as others have since re-uploaded the video.
Lori Garver, former deputy administrator of NASA from 2009 to 2013, criticized the rhetoric of the video, calling it a “total politicization” on Twitter. “Space should be healing, not dividing!” she added.
It also showed footage of astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on the way to the launch pad, including the moment they said goodbye to their families. Hurley’s wife, former astronaut Karen Nyberg, expressed her dismay on Twitter at the use of the footage.
“I find it disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent,” she wrote. “That is wrong.”
The video resulted in a petition on change.org, which called for Trump to not politicize the Crew Dragon launch. “The implication that any one person was responsible for the SpaceX-NASA Crew Demo-2 launch is an insult to the work of the teams that meaningfully contributed to its success,” the petition stated.
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign told Bloomberg that the footage had been made with publicly available resources. However, a reason for its removal was not given. A NASA spokesperson said they had not been aware of the video.
In the grand scheme of everything happening at the moment, a short-lived space video touting Trump’s supposed influence is not too much to be concerned about. But it is worth highlighting its attempts to rewrite history somewhat.
“We are giving you a platform the likes of which nobody has ever given you,” Trump said in the video. However, it failed to point out that Crew Dragon was largely the result of work by Trump’s two predecessors.
President Bush set the wheels in motion with the Vision for Space Exploration in 2004. And in 2010, President Obama started the program that funded SpaceX to develop Crew Dragon and ultimately led to last weekend’s historic launch.