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With “Space Security” Remarks, Trump Even Finds a Way to Ruin Space Exploration

From ignoring Pride Month to hating on the First Amendment to refusing to host the White House Eid dinner, Donald Trump is no stranger to ruining anything and everything decent in America. This time around, the target he’s chosen is…space travel. At the signing for an executive order that reinstates the National Space Council, Trump’s remarks were strange and small-minded, re-framing space exploration as a matter of Mike Pence’s personal interests, “space security,” and a popularity contest to see who’ll be chosen for the advisory board “everybody wants to be on.”

(Buzz Aldrin, in the above video, is all of us.)

Space travel is supposed to be about a better understanding of the universe; pushing the bounds of our collaborative, collective ingenuity; and, well, taking really cool photos of really far-away places. Instead, the U.S. got this.

Trump explained that he is reviving the National Space Council “because Mike [Pence] is very much into space.” Trump himself, though, also “Feel[s] very strongly about it. I’ve felt strongly about it for a long time. I used to say before doing what I did — I used to say, what happened? Why aren’t we moving forward?”

The National Space Council was originally founded by President John F. Kennedy, with his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson as the council chair. It also played a significant role in the Reagan and Bush administrations, before the Clinton administration decided to do away with it. You can read more about its history at Ars Technica.

In reviving the Council, Trump tried to play up his trademark nonsense-hyperbole about leadership and renewal. “The future of American space leadership — we’re going to lead again,” he said. “It’s been a long time. It’s over 25 years, and we’re opening up, and we are going to be leading again like we’ve never led before.”

“We’re a nation of pioneers, and the next great American frontier is space,” he continued. “And we never completed — we started, but we never completed. We stopped. But now we start again. And we have tremendous spirit, and we’re going to have tremendous spirit from the private sector — maybe in particular from the private sector.”

Trump also couldn’t resist turning the initiative into a reality-show competition and popularity contest. Speaking to the composition of the Council’s “user’s advisory board,” he said, “And the Vice President, myself, and a few others are going to pick some private people to be on the board. I will say that’s not easy, because everybody wants to be on this board. People that you wouldn’t have believed loved what we’re doing so much they want to — some of the most successful people in the world want to be on this board.”

At other points during his speech, Trump just couldn’t stop himself from transforming a normal, presidential statement into foolery. “Our travels beyond the Earth propel scientific discoveries that improve our lives in countless ways here, right here, at home,” he said, like a human adult, “powering vast new industry, spurring incredible new technology, and providing the space security we need to protect the American people.” The what? “And security is going to be a very big factor with respect to space and space exploration. At some point in the future, we’re going to look back and say how did we do it without space?”

After the order was signed, Buzz Aldrin attempted to make a little Toy Story joke. “Infinity and beyond,” he said, to laughter from the group.

Trump responded: “This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something — but it could be infinity, right? Okay.”

Readers, this is hardly the most outrageous thing Trump has done, but I’m just so profoundly embarrassed at this point. How do you make space travel feel this petty and uninspiring?

(Via The White House; featured image via screengrab)

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