Trump to attend NASA astronaut launch in Florida

US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference following the Senate Republicans policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 19, 2020. ( SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images )

President Donald Trump plans to be on the Florida coast Wednesday to watch the astronaut launch in Florida.

It will be the first time since the space shuttle program ended in 2011 that U.S. astronauts will launch into space aboard an American rocket from American soil.

Also new Wednesday: a private company — not NASA — is running the show.

They're scheduled to blast off from launch pad 39A, the same one the Apollo astronauts used to get to the moon.

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The shift to private companies allows NASA to zero in on deep space travel. The space agency is working to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 under orders from the White House, but that deadline appears increasingly unlikely even as three newly chosen commercial teams rush to develop lunar landers. Mars also beckons.

The White House portrayed the launch as an extension of Trump's promise to reassert American dominance in space. 

“Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security," Trump said in a statement.