Saturday, June 08, 2019 1:00 am
Trump flips, blasts return to moon
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday criticized NASA for promoting its plan to return to the moon before human exploration of Mars, a strategy that Trump endorsed in a directive early in his tenure and championed as recently as last month.
“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” Trump said on Twitter. “They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”
A White House official sought to downplay any difference between what Trump had tweeted and existing policy.
“Our Administration's goal has always been to get to Mars,” said the official, who requested anonymity, in an email. “We have asked Congress for additional resources to get to the Moon by 2024, which will enable us to get to Mars roughly a decade after creating a sustainable presence on the lunar surface.”
The policy of first going back to the moon grew from a unanimous recommendation by the new National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Pence, after its first meeting in October 2017.
At a ceremony where Trump signed a directive regarding the policy two months later, he said first returning to the moon would “establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.”