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President Trump wants Mars, not Moon, to be NASA’s priority destination

President Trump wants Mars, not Moon, to be NASA’s priority destination

One small Tweet for Trump, one large Tweetstorm for #TrumpHaters

President Donald Trump launched another salvo of chaos and drama into social media Friday. The president tweeted that NASA should look beyond the moon to Mars, after his strategy for exploring space came under criticism from a former astronaut.

Talking about NASA’s ‘Moon to Mars’ mission that proposes to make the moon a lunar gateway to other planets and constellations, the president said the space agency should be thinking bigger.

‘They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part),’ he said.

There are those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome that naturally assumed that the President didn’t realize Mars’ astronomical relationship to the moon.

Legal Insurrection readers know that the President is well versed in science and technology, as we reported in 2017. Trump’s tweet was likely sent to yank the chain of a former astronaut who assumed Trump was ignorant of planetary science.

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins told CNN this week that NASA should prioritize a Mars landing — and said he has doubts about Trump’s leadership on the matter.

“I don’t think he’s too much aware of Mars. Maybe he doesn’t understand that there is a planet Mars,” Collins said in an interview for the new CNN podcast “Apollo 11: Beyond the Moon.”.

Collins might want to consider getting more of his news from Legal Insurrection than from CNN in the future.

Trump’s tweet appeared following a Fox Business appearance by Jeff DeWit, NASA’s chief financial officer, who was interviewed by host Neil Cavuto. The agency has just presented its low Earth orbit commercialization plans, and Cavuto asked why the Moon was the focus instead off something more ambitious.

“I thought we would advance beyond that,” Cavuto says. “I thought either we would target Mars or… Why this? Why now?” The comment was first noted by Media Matters for America, a media watchdog group.

“What we’re doing now is enabling a sustainable presence on the lunar surface,” DeWit responded. “We still need to drive that innovation and complete those technologies that will allow us to have a sustained presence on Mars.”

…A White House official, speaking on background, argued that Mars has always been the long-term goal of the administration. “We have asked Congress for additional resources to get to the Moon by 2024, which will enable us to get to Mars roughly a decade after creating a sustainable presence on the lunar surface,” the official said

The NASA Administrator concurs that is the long-term plan for the agency.

The plans covered in today’s media are consistent with all the news and developments related to NASA that we have covered since Trump’s inauguration.

Looking at the social media drama, I can only say: One small Tweet for Trump, one large Tweetstorm for #TrumpHaters.


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If Michael Collins is too stupid to understand what Trump meant, that doesn’t speak well for our astronaut selection process, or perhaps we’re not protecting our astronauts’ brains adequately.

    Elric in reply to artichoke. | June 9, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Michael Collins is 88 years old. It shouldn’t be surprising that he may be a bit slow in his mental capabilities.

    CDR D in reply to artichoke. | June 9, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Collins isn’t stupid. He’s just being political and twisting words, using his ‘authority’ as a former astronaut for credibility. F*ck him.

    Oh, and f*ck Captain-Mister Gabby Giffords, aka Mark Something or Other (Kelly?), trying to ride his anti-2A agenda and astronaut status right into the Senate.

Mars is a dead end.
We won’t be going back down gravity wells once we get into space, except for the local, shallow ones like the moon. Space has abundant free energy – at Earth’s orbit, 5 times that available on the surface of Mars. Space has abundant resources easily detected & prioritized, w/o the energy cost of a significant gravity well. Space has any gravity you want, from zero to however fast you want to spin an environment.
Ask this question – What will be produced on Mars & sold for a profit on Earth? Answer – nothing this side of 20 years of space infrastructure development.

    I just can’t grasp the urgency so many have to “populate the galaxy”. We don’t have the technology to inhabit the moon yet and yet many want to skip that part and go to Mars?

    I am all for exploration of Mars and elsewhere. I just can’t come up with any reason why people have to travel there. It’s a one-way trip. Let Bezos, Musk, Branson and the rest go to Mars and pay for it out of their own pockets. It will be several decades, if ever, before we find a good reason to abandon the safest and friendliest planet in the universe.

The Friendly Grizzly | June 9, 2019 at 4:33 pm

How about a reduction in the deficit before more bread and circuses?

the problem with limited wordspaces. I understood the intent as I had already read up on the moon and mars nasa directives before.
but….I can also see how easily this could have been misconstrued by those wishing to do so.
dunno if its just the way he talks or if hes purposely baiting people.
don’t give a shit.

What on earth (or maybe I should say Mars) are you talking about? Gravity wells, free energy? “What will be produced on Mars & sold for a profit on Earth?” Who knows — certainly not you.

    Icepilot in reply to 02sbxstr. | June 9, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    We live at the bottom of Earth’s gravity well (GW) & it costs a lot of money to get to low earth orbit (LEO). Getting to & from Mars adds the effort to overcome the Sun’s GW between orbits, plus Mars’ GW.
    A solar panel in LEO produces 5x the power it would on the surface of Mars.
    Unless the intention is to support a Mars colony like the facility at the South Pole, it will need to support itself, like the early American colonies – it’s called capitalism.
    And for someone who doesn’t know what a gravity well is, or it’s cost impact 140 million miles away, you’re a bit quick to imply ignorance in another.

      daniel_ream in reply to Icepilot. | June 10, 2019 at 12:02 am

      Put me in the “wtf is the point of this” category. As John Zubrin pointed out, going to the Moon as a precursor to Mars makes no sense. They’re completely different environments with completely different technical challenges. And as Bruce Sterling has pointed out, there’s absolutely no point in going to Mars, either. During the Cold War there was at least a military reason for the space race. NASA should be concerning itself with near earth objects, regulation of commercial space traffic, and foreign hostiles in LEO. If even that.

        Icepilot in reply to daniel_ream. | June 10, 2019 at 1:11 pm

        My basic point was stated above, “Mars is a dead end”. So I’m with Stirling.
        The Moon makes sense due to it’s proximity, resources (S Pole H2O), potential for remote robotic operations, reasonably low gravity & the need to develop the systems & infrastructure for exploiting resources on airless bodies.
        As for NASA, other than coordinating space operations & serving as a technical resource, they’re not much use … except for wasting money on the Space Launch System. Private industry will get us into space, with SpaceX & Blue Origin (hopefully) leading the way.

          SpaceX etal are “private”? Does the many billions of dollars they get from the Pentagon and other government sources count? IMHO, what the government has discovered is a way to use the stock market to finance a very big chunk of the defense spending.

          Icepilot in reply to Icepilot. | June 10, 2019 at 2:35 pm

          Is Boeing private? How about Intel?
          Selling services to the U.S. Government does not make a business part of the government.

    Barry in reply to 02sbxstr. | June 9, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    Perhaps you should educate yourself a bit…

broomhandle | June 9, 2019 at 6:20 pm

I agree that the antiTrump Twitter storm was dumb and typical of the childish, leftist fools. However, Trump’s NASA plans are so far just as ridiculous as Obama’s. Their only purpose is to keep NASA funded while they achieve nothing in human space flight. We haven’t had good direction for NASA since Bush/Griffin but those plans were flawed in that the timeline was just too long such that it was not far along enough to be protected from cancellation by a new administration.

What we have now is just more illogical silliness that doesn’t even make sense on paper. Asteroid redirect was dumb. LOPG or whatever they call it or try to turn it into next is literally comical.

I don’t think we will ever have a President and Congress that takes human space flight seriously again.

    Icepilot in reply to broomhandle. | June 9, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    After getting reelected, hopefully President Trump will terminate the Space Launce System & ethanol, Florida & Iowa no longer being a consideration.

DouglasJBender | June 9, 2019 at 8:05 pm

Why not make it a mission to push Mars into orbit around the Earth? I don’t think there’s any law against the Earth having two moons, and there is plenty of space. Think of how much easier it would then be to travel to Mars. It just makes so much sense.

    Icepilot in reply to DouglasJBender. | June 9, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    That is so straightforward & logical. I wonder why no one has thought of it before?
    Then, if we built space elevators on the Moon, Earth & Mars, it would be no more effort to travel between both planets & the Moon than flying cross country!

    VaGentleman in reply to DouglasJBender. | June 10, 2019 at 1:35 am

    Think of the tides after we re-orbit Mars. Surfs UP! The coasts would become uninhabitable and the deplorables would win; I like it!

First of all, there are three steps to deep space exploration, especially manned exploration.

The first step is to construct orbital facilities, in Earth orbit, which allow for construction of ships in free fall as well as serve as launch and docking platforms for interplanetary ships.

The second step is to do the same thing at other points in the solar system. This would include the Moon, Mars, points in the asteroid belt, and at some of the outer planets. This allows for both points to service transit between planets and the Belt, as well as staging areas for planetary exploration. The problem we face, at the moment, is we have little information on the resources available at other places in the solar system. We have no information on whether valuable resources can be accessed and gathered at a cost which would make development worth while. And to find that out, we have to get there. That requires some kind of infrastructure in space.

    tom_swift in reply to Mac45. | June 10, 2019 at 8:56 am

    and gathered at a cost which would make development worth while.

    We already know the answer to that one, and it’s No. Transfer to Earth orbit is roughly $10,000 per pound. A little cheaper coming back, not enough to matter. NASA makes noise about getting that $10k down to hundreds or even tens of $$$, but has made absolutely no progress toward that in fifty years.

    Not too may payloads pay well enough to make that worth considering.

Military applications in space are the reason to be there. Our enemies will be.

Whatever commercial applications occur will occur as a result of military expenditure.

Radiation. Not solved. Likely not possible in the next 100 years which makes any trip to Mars hazardous for humans.

Albigensian | June 10, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Perhaps it’s time to admit that we just can’t do big projects anymore- and correct this before starting something that likely will never complete?

If we were (for some reason) to re-do the Apollo project (with adjustments to accommodate today’s technologies) I’d expect it would cost at least ten times as much and take at least twice as long. Assuming it could be done today at all.

One difference between then and now is that we’re far more risk-averse now (and, there’s just no way to remove much of the risk from a Mars expedition). Another is that popular support for something of this magnitude and with comparable-percent-of-GDP spending is just not there. But the biggest reason is just that everything takes a lot longer and costs a lot more now.

Do you think a new subway could be constructed in New York today, if there wasn’t already one there? It took four years to build the original system (1900-1904), yet the Second Avenue subway that opened in 2017 took three times as long (12 years) to build, cost more, and consists of only three stations. And unlike the original system, it has only two tracks instead of four (all trains are local).

The Empire State Bldg. took 18 months from groundbreaking to open-and-ready-to-lease; do you think a similar building could be build in less than five years today? Could the Hoover Dam be built now? The Interstate Highway System?

So, even if Pres. Trump could sell this it probably can’t be done. Although if it could, the likely result would be vast expenditure and (in the best scenario) a few very costly trips, followed by permanent abandonment. (In the worst, the astros get a lethal dose of radiation from a solar storm while in transit, or are unable to return and unable to sustain themselves on Mars, etc.)

Because the second problem is that the technology of space transportation just hasn’t advanced all that much in the last fifty years, other than in improved electronics (for robotic missions, and guidance and control).

Perhaps the money would be better spent in researching a viable interplanetary transportation technology, whether that be ion rockets or solar sails or (???)? For existing space transport tech. seems good for little more than at most a few hideously expensive crewed missions to that Red Planet. If that.

DouglasJBender | June 10, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Does no one here believe me when I say I have invented levitation (it’s not “anti-gravity” per se, and it’s not really all that complicated).

DouglasJBender | June 10, 2019 at 2:43 pm

Does no one here believe me when I say I have invented levitation (it’s not “anti-gravity” per se, and it’s not really all that complicated)? Currently, I need someone to invest probably around $2500-$5000 so I can make a working model. If someone was willing to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, I could show them my drawing, a 4-minute video from YouTube, and I could explain the theory. I believe that would be sufficient to convince anyone of at least slightly-above-average intelligence that I have indeed invented levitation.

    VaGentleman in reply to DouglasJBender. | June 10, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    Before I decide to invest, I need to know if your system works incrementally or is it only full levitation? If I can use it to ‘lose’ 10 pounds for my next physical, you can reach me at BR 549.

    “Does no one here believe me…”

    Of course we all believe you.

    How high can you levitate? Does it require any drugs?

    I’m all in for 10 bucks a foot. No need for an NDA, you can trust me.

DouglasJBender | June 11, 2019 at 12:12 am

I see no need to respond to you any further.