Taking credit for the first attempts at opening up space tourism by billionaires, Mr Trump told Fox News in a phone interview that Space Force, which was started by his administration in 2019 as the sixth branch of US Armed Service, is “vital” and up and running.
“We’re very proud of that,” Mr Trump said. “It was close to 75 years. It was the Air Force. And now we did Space Force, which is going to be so vital. And we not only did it. I mean, it’s up and running and really great,” he added.
UK entrepreneur Mr Branson blasted off to space on Sunday onboard his company Virgin’s own space place in a historic trip, beating fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos’s own plan to go to space. The Amazon founder is scheduled to make a similar trip on 20 July.
When asked about Mr Branson’s trip and other billionaire business leaders’s interest in space, Mr Trump said: “Better him than me. I would rather see Richard in the plane today than me in the spaceship. But if Richard loves it, and Bezos loves it. And a lot of rich guys love space, OK? You will explain that someday. But they do love space.”
“I made it possible for them to do this. I actually said to my people: Let the private sector do it. These guys want to come in with billions of dollars. Let’s lease them facilities because you need certain facilities to send up rockets, and we have those facilities,” he added.
He went on to say that the US has the greatest facilities for such missions and he reopened them because “they were dead”.
“So I said, hey look, if Elon wants to stand up a rocket, let him do it. We’ll charge him some rent. Let him do it. Let these guys do it. And we’re seeing advancement now that I don’t believe we would have ever seen had we done it the old-fashioned way,” Mr Trump said in the interview.
Mr Branson called his an hour of space visit as an “experience of a lifetime” and exclaimed that “it was just magical” as he returned to Earth on his space plane, named Unity.
“I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space,” he said in a press conference.
Mr Musk’s SpaceX has already launched astronauts to the International Space Station for Nasa and is also actively involved in opening up space tourism. He has himself, however, not committed to going into space anytime soon even as his company’s first private flight is set to launch in September.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies