This morning at 1:27AM ET, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson broke a significant spaceflight record during her current stay on board the International Space Station. She’s now lived more than 534 days in space during her lifetime, meaning she’s spent more cumulative days in space than any other American. To commemorate this occasion, President Donald Trump is going to call Whitson from Earth at 10AM ET to congratulate her on her new title.
And boy does NASA really want you to watch this call. Last week, the space agency sent out a press release letting everyone know all the different channels where they can view this little chat. Not only will it be up on NASA’s own online TV channel, but it will be on the agency’s Facebook, YouTube, and Ustream pages. But the fun doesn’t stop there. You can also watch via NASA’s various apps for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV.
The call is supposed to last 20 minutes, and Trump will be joined by his daughter Ivanka as well as NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, who is back on Earth after wrapping up a nearly four-month stay on the ISS last year. It’s not clear exactly what Trump and Whitson are going to discuss, but 20 minutes is a long time to simply say “congratulations.”
Perhaps we’ll get some more insight into Trump’s plans for space policy during his administration. So far, we know very little of what changes the new president wants for NASA — if any. While his budget proposal did make some cuts to NASA for fiscal year 2018, the agency’s programs more or less stayed the same. And Trump did sign into law the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, a bill that basically keeps NASA on the same path it’s been on. Meanwhile, Trump has also promised to “unlock the mysteries of space” and that sending astronauts to distant worlds isn’t “too big of a dream.” How that translates into space policy, though, is unclear, and this morning might be a good time to hint at what’s to come.
Or maybe Trump will just want to know what living in microgravity is like. We can all find out together at 10AM ET.