President Donald Trump after signing Space
Policy Directive 1 on Dec. 11, 2017, directing NASA to return to the moon.
Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
Kremer — SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM – 7 June 2019
trashed his own plans for NASA’s accelerated human Moon landing program thereby jeopardizing the return of American astronauts to the lunar
surface by 2024 under Project Artemis.
“For all of the money we
are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that
50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing,
including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”, President
Trump suddenly tweeted at 1:38 p.m. EDT today June 7.
This tweet marks a
complete 180 degree turnaround from what Trump himself has been saying for the
past month including this past week.
In fact President
Trump confirmed his Administration’s support for NASA on twitter when he amended
his Fiscal Year 2020 NASA budget proposal and requested an additional $1.6 billion on May 13 as part of theaccelerated Artemis human lunar landing program.
“Under my Administration, we are
to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars. I am updating my
budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we
can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” President Trump tweeted May 13.
And during a joint press conference
last week with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 27, Trump reiterated
his support for NASA’s human return to the Moon.
“Japan will join our mission to send U.S. astronauts to
space. We’ll be going to the moon. We’ll be going to Mars very soon. It’s very
Apparently Trumps tweet came about after listening to a broadcast
by his friend Fox host Neil Cavuto – a well known opponent of return to the
Moon and space exploration who thinks it’s a waste of money despite that fact
that the broadcasts of his uninformed utterances are only enabled by telecommunications
satellites in space.
The goal is
to land a two person crew including the first American woman and the next American man at the lunar south pole by 2024 within 5 years.
The speeded up return
to the Moon was first announced by Vice President Mike Pence during a speech on
March 26 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council in
direction of the president of the United States, it is the stated policy of
this administration and the United States of America to return American
astronauts to the moon within the next five years,” Pence said at Marshall.
woman and the next man on the moon will both be American astronauts, launched
by American rockets from American soil.”
Four hours later NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine attempted
to clarify Trumps disastrous tweet with his own.
is using the Moon to send humans to Mars! Right now, @MarsCuriosity
are on Mars and will soon be joined by the Mars 2020 rover and the Mars helicopter,”
Bridenstine tweeted June 7 at 5:33 p.m. EDT.
Bridenstine has reiterated many times that the greatest
hurdle to returning to the moon is not technical risk – rather its political risk.
He is right on target about that. Thats why no human has
voyaged to the moon since 1972 – lack of political will and federal funding.
White House officials
also attempted to downplay Trumps tweet later in the day and said the Moon
remains the immediate focus followed by Mars.
Only time will tell.
Hopefully President Trump will speak up quickly with a full
throated endorsement of sending Americans back to the lunar surface by 2024
under Project Artemis.
Artists concept for NASA’s human return to
the Moon’s surface by 2024 under Project Artemis. Credit: NASA
Watch for Ken’s continuing
onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and
Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer
– email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the
KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events