Tuesday, March 26, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to get a moon shot on the cheap.

Today, Trump announced his administration's new plan for NASA: putting American astronauts on the moon by 2024, four years ahead of the current most optimistic schedule.

Of course, Americans have gone to the moon before, but the tiny lunar modules of the Apollo program were sent up atop massive Saturn V rockets—still the most powerful ever successfully launched. The planned replacement, the Space Launch System (SLS), is still under development.

The literal moon shot proposal was taken by many as a campaign stunt. NASA does not seem to have been told about Trump's plans to cut its timeline in half: its budget request from earlier this month was still based on the 2028 schedule.

Trump's own proposed 2020 budget cuts funding for the SLS and for NASA overall

So what?

  • NASA, like all government agencies, works better when it's not being used as a political prop.