SpaceX’s Crew Dragon splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday after spending two months on the International Space Station. But before the two crew members aboard the capsule were confirmed to be successfully recovered, dozens of boats swarmed the splashdown zone, one with a large blue banner with “Trump” emblazoned across it.
The crowd of seacraft prompted outrage among those who believe that the vehicles could have put the recovery efforts in jeopardy.
As The Verge reported, as the recovery team scrambled to recover NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, the scene in the area was chaotic. It wasn’t clear why private crafts were allowed to be in the zone, but as some noted on social media, they could have prevented rescue teams from doing their job.
On top of that, there is the possibility of toxic propellant reaching the public from the spacecraft’s thrusters, which are used to slow the craft as it nears the water.
— Jon Nicosia (@NewsPolitics) August 2, 2020
“The one thing you can count on with Trump supporters is extreme selfish entitlement,” wrote one person.
Emre Kelly, who covers space topics for USA Today, was following the event closely while commenting on social media. He noted that the crew had splashed down before realizing that a boat flying a Trump banner had buzzed through the spot.
“Am I seeing this correctly? Did a private boat flying a Trump flag just approach Crew Dragon then have to be forced out?” he wrote. “Yup. Sounds like those private boats are being asked to vacate the area. Not cool.”
“I hope all of you understand how serious of a problem this is. On a good day, it’s dangerous for the SpaceX recovery crew + boat. On a less good day, they’d seriously impede on emergency operations and likely be affected in the process. This. Isnt. Funny,” added another person following the crew’s landing.
Other commenters mused about why the landing spot was made public and why boats were being allowed to be in the region. Many wondered where the Coast Guard was during the landing. Some questioned the intellect of the boater.
The astronauts landed in the gulf as the first splashdown in 45 years. The two men left the ISS 20 hours prior after completing the first crewed spaceflight from the U.S. since the space shuttle program was retired in 2011.
The Crew Dragon were launched into space in May and performed various experiments while they were aboard the space station, before returning to Earth, where they were successfully recovered.