President Trump and his campaign took down a video late Thursday that featured the recent SpaceX launch after critics said it was politicizing the event and violated NASA’s advertising rules.
The video featured footage of the president watching the historic launch from last week from Kennedy Space Center, with his usual slogan-style: “Make Space Great Again.” This was intercut with historic footage from the Apollo era.
Karen Nyberg, a former astroanut and the wife of Doug Hurley (one of the astronauts carried to the ISS in the launch), took to Twitter to blast the video, saying she thought it “disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent. That is wrong.”
I find it disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent. That is wrong. @nasa @JimBridenstine https://t.co/cXcKHxmn6e
— Karen L. Nyberg (@AstroKarenN) June 4, 2020
Hurley and Bob Behnken were the first American astronauts to be carried into orbit from American soul since 2011. It was a brief moment of inspiration during the pandemic and George Floyd protests.
However, the ad was quickly attacked for using an event accomplished by science and engineering for political gain.
Furthermore, the ad goes against the advertising policy of NASA, which prohibits the organization from endorsing “a commercial product, service or activity.”
“Astronauts or employees who are currently employed by NASA cannot have their names, likenesses or other personality traits displayed in any advertisements or marketing material.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for a comment about the video.
This isn’t the first time that politicians have used the accomplishments and achievements of NASA to backdrop their own political agenda. John Logsdon, a space historian and a professor emeritus at George Washington University, spoke of how it reminded him of Richard Nixon:
“He had nothing to do with Apollo 11; he just happened to be the president when it happened. But he wrapped himself in the event. And never once mentioned Kennedy.”
Trump was obviously eager to use this launch to tout his administration with a possible re-election coming up this November, but it looks like people aren’t having it. It may not be a great time for him to be touting anything when he is facing a monstrous tidal wave of criticisms for his handling of the pandemic and the protests.
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