ORLANDO, Fla. — President Trump executed a cosmic flip flop in priorities Friday when he tweeted that the United States should not keep talking about going back to the moon, despite his administration’s insistence that the United States should, in fact, go back to the moon.
“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!” Trump tweeted Friday afternoon.
Just 25 days earlier, Trump had tweeted his support for the lunar return, a mission that his administration placed as the highest priority for NASA when it issued Space Policy Directive 1 in 2017 instructing NASA to get boots back on the lunar surface.
On May 13, Trump tweeted, “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 we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!”
In the time between the two tweets, NASA has been working to secure that $1.6 billion increase in funding to its proposed $21 billion budget for 2020 to accelerate a mission to the moon. The agency was originally targeting 2028 for a lunar mission, but Vice President Mike Pence changed that deadline to 2024 during a speech in March.
Trump’s tweet Friday throws a wrench in the efforts NASA has been undertaking to align the political, public and financial support needed to make a lunar landing possible.