A space-themed reelection ad lasted just a day on YouTube after objections from astronauts and other NASA officials prompted the Trump campaign to take it down.
The spot, titled “Make Space Great Again” because these people love that damn slogan, was centered around last Saturday’s inaugural manned SpaceX launch from Kennedy Space Center. The two astronauts who made the trip, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, both appeared in the ad, which is a clear violation of NASA regulations. Behnken’s wife Megan McArthur is also an active astronaut, so her appearance with the couple’s son violated the same rule.
Hurley’s wife Karen Nyberg is a retired astronaut who can also be seen in the ad with her son. That wouldn’t be a violation of the rules if the Trump campaign had secured her permission which, of course, it didn’t. She tweeted that she found the incident “disturbing.”
And if that wasn’t enough, the commercial also used the NASA logo without special approval, which the agency clearly didn’t grant given that NASA officials were just as surprised as everyone else when the spot appeared on online on Wednesday.
It’s a sloppy mess for the Trump campaign, evidence that the folks responsible for the video either didn’t take the time to research if they were allowed to release it or knew it went against NASA rules but assumed those rules wouldn’t apply to them. But whether it was incompetence or arrogance, the worst part of the incident might be that Trump doesn’t even deserve credit for the SpaceX launch.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is the public-private partnership that facilitated SpaceX launching from NASA facilities to the International Space Station. It was started by the Obama administration after the end of the Space Shuttle program, and SpaceX won a contract to participate all the way back in 2014.
Trump simply didn’t end the program, so it’s kind of a stretch for him to claim the credit that SpaceX, NASA, and the Obama administration clearly deserve.
Also, it turns out, astronaut parents are just like non-astronaut parents: They don’t want photos or videos of their kids being used by strangers for personal gain.