On Friday, President Donald Trump backed off his desired goal of returning NASA astronauts to the moon by the conclusion of his potential second term. Trump stated that NASA should instead be focusing on further destinations in space, including Mars.
Trump explained that NASA should not waste their time and resources on something that was done fifty years ago. Trump shared this view on his way back to the White House from Ireland via Twitter. This view significantly contradicted a speech given by his Vice President a few months ago.
Trump went on to say that NASA should increase their focus on much bigger goals. Trump specifically made reference to Mars, in addition to mentioning Defense and Science purposes, instead of a moon landing.
Trump’s Twitter message was general, leaving some unclear aspects to ponder for the public. At the end of last month, Trump stated he was adding around 1.6 billion dollars to the budget of NASA in order to return to space in a significant way and help improve the image of NASA.
Trump explained that under his administration, he wants to restore NASA to greatness by returning to the moon and going to the planet Mars. As part of the increase in the NASA budget, the Trump Administration explained that it would start efforts to land the first woman on the moon nearly five decades since the last moon landing. The previous twelve astronauts to walk on the moon have been male, and all were American.
The budget increase did not include a twenty-one-billion-dollar request from NASA in order to speed up the return to the lunar surface.
In March, Vice President Mike Pence revealed plans by the Trump Administration to return United States Astronauts to the moon by the year 2024 as the fiftieth anniversary of the first manned moon mission approaches.
While speaking at the United States Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Pence explained that the estimated year of 2028 for the next American to reach the moon was not good enough. Pence went on to explain that it is the documented policy of the Trump Administration and the United States of America that NASA returns American Astronauts to the moon within the next five years.
The renewed energy towards sending more American astronauts to the moon has been met with mostly negativity by government officials, former and current NASA employees, and the public. Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins told CNN this past week that NASA should instead put their time and resources into a mission to Mars and not concern itself with the moon as a top priority. Collins also said that he has his doubts concerning Trump and his leadership regarding the missions NASA should and should not engage in.
Collins told CNN that he does not think Trump is too much aware of Mars. Collins even went on to take a jab and the President, saying that Trump may not understand that the planet of Mars does exist. It seems Trump has responded to this criticism by making Mars the focus for NASA moving forward.