BREAKING NEWS
This content is not available in your region

Trump reverses thrust, says NASA should focus on Mars not the moon

Comments
Image: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the American flag on the surface of th
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the American flag on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 space mission on July 20, 1969.   -   Copyright  Neil Armstrong NASA via Reuters
Text size Aa Aa

President Donald Trump launched his own moon shot on Friday.

Trump — who's been pushing NASA to return to the moon by 2024 — charted a new course on Friday and said the agency "should be focused on much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part)."

"For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon — We did that 50 years ago," said the head-scratching tweet, which was sent while Trump was flying back from Europe on Air Force One.

The tweet seemed to be a complete 180 from the president, who's tasked NASA with getting back to the moon by what would be the end of his second term.

In a May 13 tweet, Trump had boasted, "Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA 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 can return to Space in a BIG WAY!"

President Donald Trump receives a NASA flight jacket from Chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA Chris Cassidy during a bill signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House March 21, 2017.
President Donald Trump receives a NASA flight jacket from Chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA Chris Cassidy during a bill signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House March 21, 2017.Alex Wong

Speaking at an event at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington on May 15, Vice President Mike President told attendees, including NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, that "at President Trump's direction, it is the policy of the United States that we will return to the moon within the next five years, and the first woman and the next man on the moon will be an American."

The Friday tweet came shortly after NASA sent out a press release saying it was opening the International Space Station for commercial business.

"This move comes as NASA focuses full speed ahead on its goal of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024," the NASA release said.

A staffer for Media Matters for America, a liberal activist group, noted on Twitter that the tweet also came about one hour after anchor Neil Cavuto complained on Fox Business about NASA "refocusing on the moon," and saying, "didn't we do this moon thing quite a few decades ago?"

"The president's tweet seems to largely be commentary on how Jeff DeWit, the NASA chief financial officer who Trump was watching on Fox Business Network, frames his discussion of the agency's plans," MMFA senior fellow Matthew Gertz noted.