Trump backs mission to Mars in attack on Nasa's 2024 Moon plans

Social media mocks president for tweet suggesting two astronomical bodies are connected

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
@AndrewBuncombe
Friday 07 June 2019 15:54
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The moon is shrinking and shaking, Nasa says

Donald Trump has appeared to undermine his administration’s own plans to return humans to the Moon, instead telling Nasa to focus on Mars.

In a clumsily worded tweet presumably sent from the confines of planet Earth, the president said Nasa was wasting its time on something that had been tackled half-a-century ago.

“For all of the money we are spending, Nasa should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” he wrote.

“They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), defence and science!”

US media pointed out the president’s tweet on Friday came just months after his administration announced plans to step up efforts to return humans to the moon by 2024 – four years earlier that originally planned.

In March, vice president Mike Pence, who chairs the so-called Space Council, announced the administration’s new timetable.

Meanwhile, social media mocked the president over the wording of his tweet, which some said suggested Mr Trump believed the Moon was part of Mars. [In truth, they are close to 50m miles apart.]

Mr Trump’s comments came one day after Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency would not be able to meet a 2024 deadline to land astronauts on the moon unless Congress approved the Trump administration’s request for an additional $1.6bn in next year’s budget.

“It takes this off the table,”Mr Bridenstine told USA Today.

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“[Without the extra funding] we’re going to be back looking at 2028.”

It was the Nasa boss’s strongest statement to date that the fate of a lunar return five years from now depended s almost entirely on congressional action.

America’s last walk on the moon was in 1972.

Nobody from Nasa or the National Space Council immediately responded to journalists’ enquiries about the president’s tweet which was sent as he returned from D Day memorial celebrations in Europe.

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