Trump said he ‘made it possible’ for Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos to launch into space, as the billionaire space race takes off
- Trump took credit for the space race between the billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.
- Trump claimed he was responsible for leasing them the facilities they needed for their launches.
- He also claimed that he’d reopened NASA. The agency never closed.
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Former President Donald Trump on Sunday took credit for the space race between the billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.
Trump called into the Fox News show “Sunday Morning Futures,” hosted by Maria Bartiromo, and said his administration had leased facilities to Branson and Bezos so that they could go to space.
“They love sending rocket ships up. And I made it possible for them to do this. I actually said to my people, ‘Let the private sector do it,'” Trump said.
“These guys want to come in with billions of dollars. Let’s lease them facilities, because, you know, you need certain facilities to send up rockets. And we have those facilities. We have the greatest facilities.”
While Branson and Bezos have indeed tested and launched rockets from government facilities, the terms of those agreements preceded Trump’s presidency.
Branson was already forging ahead with rocket testing in 2014, when he used the Mojave Air and Space Port to launch the VSS Enterprise.
Branson blasted off on Sunday from a commercial facility called Spaceport America in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Virgin Galactic relocated its spaceplane testing more than a decade ago. His agreement to be the anchor tenant at the facility, managed by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, dates back to 2011, way before Trump took office in 2017.
Bezos operates Blue Origin’s space ventures from a 165,000-acre parcel of land he purchased in West Texas years ago. In 2015, Bezos leased a launchpad in Florida from the US Air Force for an orbital launch vehicle.
Bezos is set to take off from Texas on July 20 with his brother Mark in a capsule on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. They’ll be accompanied by the 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk and an unidentified bidder who forked over $28 million for a seat on the flight. Blue Origin plans to launch them to the Kármán line, about 62 miles above the ground – higher than the 53.5-mile mark Branson got to.
“There was grass growing in the cracks of the runway. There were all broken-up runaways. There was grass growing through those cracks. And it’s now a vibrant, incredible place,” Trump said of NASA, adding: “That was a closed, dead field, and I’m very, very proud of the Space Force.”