[It's] hardly surprising that Donald Trump now is claiming that he "made it possible" for Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos to take brief joy rides into space. Trump made the claim during a phone appearance on the Fox News "Sunday Morning Futures" show. He said that he gave the go-ahead for his administration to lease facilities to Branson and Bezos so that they would be able to test and launch their spacecraft.
Trump: I made it possible
"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."
The problem is, as with just about all of Trump's exaggerations, they're easily fact checked. Branson and Bezos did, indeed, test and launch their rockets from U.S. government facilities, but they were doing so with the blessing of former president Barack Obama as early as 2014, not Trump.
The Washington Post reported on Obama's enthusiasm for privately-funded space exploration in 2016.
"Just five years ago, U.S. companies were shut out of the global commercial launch market," Obama wrote. "Today, thanks to groundwork laid by the men and women of NASA, they own more than a third of it. More than 1,000 companies across nearly all 50 states are working on private space initiatives."
"It will become one of the great ironies in the history of exploration into space that someone many politicians called a socialist was a champion for the possibilities of capitalism in space," said James Muncy, a space policy analyst at PoliSpace, a consulting firm. Obama "stepped in and said we're going to try public private partnerships, and it is working."
Another salient point: Trump hates Bezos and never would do anything to benefit him for at least two reasons: one, Bezos owns The Washington Post, which has relentlessly investigated corruption in Trump's administration and, two: Bezos is far, far wealthier than Trump.
"I was a kid once, standing with my dad and my sister, looking up at the moon, being told that Buzz and Neil were standing on it," Branson told NPR's Morning Edition this week, referring to the Apollo 11 astronauts. "And I just thought, I've got to go to space one day."
Bezos, likewise, says he's dreamed of traveling to space since he was 5. Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with the goal of democratizing human spaceflight.
Branson took his first steps toward realizing his dreams in 2004, when he registered the name Virgin Galactic with the idea of making space travel possible for his generation. Now, his efforts [took] flight.
Trump's claim that he "made it possible" for Branson and Bezos to travel into outer space is false and deserves a