Trump Slams NASA: Focus on Mars, Not Moon

US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump attend the French-US ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy northwestern France

In a tweet, Trump criticised his own administration's space policy, firing a shot at Nasa for talking about returning to the moon.

The US president is sending mixed messages about NASA's new manned missions to the moon and Mars.

Instead, Trump framed the moon program - unveiled by Vice President Mike Pence amid much fanfare less than three months ago - as being merely part of a bigger push to Mars.

Camera IconUS President Donald Trump signs a bill increasing NASA's funding in 2017.

"They should be focused on the much bigger things we are going, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!"

In an article dryly datelined as being written "On Earth (of which NY is a part)", The Guardian suggested that Trump's tweet may have been "a comment on Nasa's broader plan to eventually travel to Mars from the moon".

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The NASA website also provided details on the space agency's plans for making the moon a jumping off point for future missions to Mars and a place to test equipment and technology for other forays out into the solar system. Under NASA's plan, as many as two private astronauts per year could fly to the station and stay for up to 30 days on the space station - something estimated to cost $50 million per seat, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The tweet is at odds with a directive Trump signed in December 2017 to send USA astronauts back to the moon for the first time since 1972. "I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!"

As part of the budget increase, the administration said it would begin efforts to send the first woman to the moon, almost five decades after the last United States landing.

Speaking in April, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said "this time, when we go to the Moon, we're actually going to stay".

NASA's website on Friday said the Artemis program would send "the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024 and develop a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028". The agency released a soaring trailer last month for its moon mission and is working on building a lunar gateway and further exploring the moon's surface through both robotic and human efforts.

There are probably some frantic emails flying between NASA headquarters and the White House right now.

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