U.S. President Donald Trump raised eyebrows Friday when he tweeted about what he thinks NASA‘s priorities should be.
On Friday morning, he tweeted that, “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!”
The tweet triggered a round of mockery from people pointing out that Earth’s moon is not part of Mars.
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Some gave him the benefit of the doubt, granting that the president’s intention wasn’t to suggest that the moon is part of Mars in a literal sense.
Trump’s tweet came three few weeks after said his administration was “restoring NASA to greatness” and that the U.S. was “going back to the moon, then Mars.”
That was part of an announcement in which he said he was updating his budget to include $1.6 billion so that America could return to space in a “BIG WAY!”
READ MORE: Trump seeks additional $1.6B for NASA with goal of returning to the moon by 2024
That announcement came almost two months after Vice-President Mike Pence said the U.S. had a goal to put astronauts back on the moon within five years — four years sooner than NASA initially hoped to do.
“Challenge accepted. Now let’s get to work,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at the time.
On its website, NASA describes plans for “Moon to Mars,” an exploration program that aims to establish a “permanent human presence on the moon within the next decade” and to work on technology that could be used on Mars.
Moon and Mars exploration are intertwined, NASA said.
Space Policy Directive-1 states, “beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations.”
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NASA wants to “enable human exploration of the moon as preparation for human missions to Mars and deeper into the solar system.”
So America’s goal to reach the moon again is very much connected to its aim to go to Mars.
READ MORE: Trump administration sets goal of putting Americans back on the moon in 5 years
And while Trump may now want NASA to focus more closely on Mars than the moon, it appears that the latter is a key step to reaching the red planet.
The president’s tweet came on the same day that Bridenstine told the International Space Development Conference that, “the very first space policy directive of the president said, ‘we’re going to go back to the moon,’” as reported by CNN.
Bridenstine added that NASA’s coming journey to the moon would be different because “we’re going to stay.”
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Meanwhile, The Guardian noted that Trump’s tweet came one hour after Fox News guest Neil Cavuto questioned why NASA is focusing on the moon as its “next sort of quest.”
“Didn’t we do this moon thing quite a few decades ago?” Cavuto asked.
— With files from Reuters
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