Ex-NASA Astronaut Calls Trump's 'Make Space Great Again' Ad 'Political Propaganda' As Campaign Video Removed by President's Election Team

Retired NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg has criticized President Donald Trump's election campaign for using images of her in a "Make Space Great Again" political ad, which was published on Wednesday. The video has since been removed from social media channels.

The two-and-a-half-minute clip features images of last week's historic Crew Dragon Demo-2 launch—which saw NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken successfully fly to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX spacecraft—as well as past NASA missions and snippets of Trump speeches.

Nyberg and her son can briefly be seen in the video saying goodbye to Hurley—who she is married to—prior to the launch. The clip came from NASA's live coverage of the event.

"I find it disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent. That is wrong," Nyberg wrote in a tweet on Thursday.

The ad also featured images of Behnken saying farewell to his wife—active NASA astronaut Megan McArthur—and son before the launch. However, NASA's advertising guidelines place certain restrictions on the use of images of its active and former astronauts.

"Astronauts or employees who are currently employed by NASA cannot have their names, likenesses or other personality traits displayed in any advertisements or marketing material," the guidelines state.

I find it disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent. That is wrong. @nasa @JimBridenstine https://t.co/cXcKHxmn6e

— Karen L. Nyberg (@AstroKarenN) June 4, 2020

"Former NASA Astronauts or employees who no longer work for the U.S. Government can grant permission for the use of their names, likenesses or other personality traits in their discretion, but their former affiliation with NASA may not be used to promote any product, service or activity."

The regulations also say that NASA's iconic logo, which was also visible in the ad, cannot be used in marketing materials without prior permission.

It appears that NASA only found out about the campaign video after the clip was published online, a space agency spokesperson told space.com, suggesting that prior permission had not been given.

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign had previously told Bloomberg News that the ad had been put together using publicly available resources. However, the video was removed from YouTube by the uploader on Thursday, and has also been taken down from the campaign's Facebook and Twitter pages. Unofficial uploads can still be found online.

Crew Dragon Demo-2, SpaceX, NASA
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft launches on the Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard at Launch Complex 39A May 30, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX via Getty Images

On Wednesday, a petition was started on change.org calling for the video to be removed. It currently has more than 6,600 signatures.

"Donald Trump recently made a presidential campaign video politicizing the accomplishments earned through many years of hard work by the NASA and SpaceX teams. This campaign video, created on June 3, implies that the return of crewed launch on U.S. soil is solely to the credit of his Administration," the author of the petition, Andrew Harner, wrote.

"This implication is untrue; the NASA Commercial Crew Program has been around since the Obama Administration (started in 2011) in its current form, and its roots go back to the Bush Administration. The implication that any one person was responsible for the SpaceX-NASA Crew Demo-2 launch is an insult to the work of the teams that meaningfully contributed to its success."

The Demo-2 launch was the first crewed spaceflight launched from American soil since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. The president attended both the initial Demo-2 launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which was scrubbed due to bad weather, and the second successful launch amid widespread social unrest following the killing of George Floyd.

Newsweek has contacted the Trump election campaign for comment regarding the removal of the video from social media channels.