When SpaceX’s all-civilian mission, Inspiration4, launched from Cape Canaveral for a three-day journey 365 miles above the Earth, many immediately thought that congratulations were in order. Its noble fundraising mission for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital aside, Inspiration4’s crew was also remarkable, featuring the first Black female spacecraft pilot and a medical officer who lives with a prosthesis, among others.
It was then no surprise that government officials and famous personalities opted to give their congratulations to the crew of the all-American mission. Former First Lady Michelle Obama gave some sincere kudos to the crew, particularly Dr. Sian Proctor, who serves as the mission’s pilot. Senator and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson supported the mission as well, and so did former astronauts like Mike Massimino. Even Jeff Bezos, the owner of Blue Origin, a company that is, at times, a bitter rival to SpaceX, congratulated the crew.
Inspiration4 deserves a lot of commendation. It was a mission, after all, that was only made possible through sheer determination and good, old-fashioned hard work. SpaceX is an American success story, and so is the private mission itself. Yet as the mission went on and as Inspiration4’s Crew Dragon capsule returned to Earth, one person was evidently silent about the groundbreaking three-day trip — the current president of the United States, Joe Biden.
Quite unlike his predecessor, Donald Trump, who posted commendations on Twitter when SpaceX returned crewed spaceflight to the United States, Biden largely ignored the Inspiration4 mission. There was no peep from the president, or even a short tweet recognizing the milestones that the trip achieved. Even the $210 million worth of donations that Inspiration4 raised for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital were ignored. This was quite surprising considering that it takes very little time for the president, or his media team for that matter, to send a short tweet recognizing what is evidently an American achievement.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, for his part, decided to poke fun at the president as a result. With social media platforms wondering why the current US President has chosen to ignore an accomplishment for American spaceflight, Musk pointedly joked that Joe Biden was probably “still sleeping.” In a later response to a Twitter user who noted that the Inspiration4 crew should be recognized and perhaps even applauded by the president, Musk stated that such a thing should “absolutely” happen.
It should be noted that this was not the first time that Elon Musk’s companies or achievements were practically ghosted by the US President. Just recently, the White House held a special day for American electric vehicles, and Tesla was completely overlooked despite the company being the global leader in EVs. Later revisions to the administration’s planned EV tax credit also included provisions that penalize Tesla for not using union labor. As per the revised proposals, vehicles produced from a US factory with non-union American labor would receive fewer incentives than an EV produced outside the US with union labor.
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