Trump Briefly Mentions Space in Address to Congress

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump briefly mentioned space during an address to Congress on Tuesday night.

“American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream,” he said.

What this means is anyone’s guess. It’s the sort of platitude that sounds visionary but is actually vague, one that appears to promise bold action without a commitment to actually doing anything of the sort.

Trump was equally vague about space in his Inaugural Address in January.

“We stand at the birth of a new millennium ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow,” he said.

Trump’s budget outline thus far calls for boosting military spending while cutting back on discretionary civilian spending. And NASA is about as discretionary as civilian spending gets.

It’s likely the space agency’s Earth science will get whacked. Trump once said global warming was a Chinese plot to destroy American industry. One of his advisors said the research should be moved elsewhere in the government so as to refocus NASA on deep space exploration.

  • Carlton Stephenson

    Hopefully he understands that it will never work: badass military without equally badass space support and capability. The enemy will not attack our strength, they will attack our weakness.

  • mike_shupp

    There’s apparently a budget bill somewhere in the House works already which cuts some amount of “earth observatlon” from NASA’s budget. Counting current operations and future development, this might go as high a $2 billion a year. I suppose one could argue such a sum removed from NASA’s budget might be added to the NOAA budget; it’d probably be a mistake to hold one’s breath waiting for this.

    Beyond that, I expect a ten percent cut in what remains — partially a stretchout of commercial crew and partly postponements of various planetary science and astronomy programs. That’d bring NASA from a bit over 19 billion dollars to say 15.5 billion, which would probably be brought up a bit in future years as inflation adjustments.

  • Paul451

    NOAA is expected to get a similar cut.

    (And since they’ve already been hit with legislative language preventing them from using new satellites for long term observations, I assume the belief is that they are, in effect, a glorified weather bureau, and anything else is a “distraction” from their “mission”.)

  • Douglas Messier

    What language is that? Can you point me to legislation?

    It’s possible that Trump will leave NASA’s overall budget where it is (about $19 billion) and make the requisite budget cut to help fund defense spending. Meanwhile, money being spent on Earth science at NASA gets shifted over to other programs within the agency.

    Meanwhile, NOAA is burdened with heading up Earth science research even as its budget is cut and it lacks the statutory authority to do long-term climate research. Bridenstine’s legislation will bring in more commercial data firms in an effort to completely zero out any deaths from tornadoes in Oklahoma. (A worthy enough goal, but still…)

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    Trump said he wants to spend money on infrastructure. 8 years ago NASA persuaded Obama that CCDev counted as infrastructure spending. If Dragon V2 and CST-100 count then spacestations and lunar landers may also count.

    If NASA asks with a costed plan Congress and the US President may say no but they could say yes.

  • delphinus100

    Um, yeah. Sure sounds like a policy statement to me…

  • ThomasLMatula

    And of course the media has to bash him on it.

    Trump’s call for human space exploration is hugely wasteful and pointless

    By Michael Hiltzik
    Contract Reporter
    March 1, 2017,11:30 AM

    “Trump’s brief, offhand comment had the tone of an impulsive notion that, like so many of his other policy pronouncements, won’t get any follow-through. Let’s hope so, because the idea of sending humans to explore distant worlds is loopy, incredibly wasteful, and likely to cripple American science rather than inspire it. And that’s assuming that Trump’s notion doesn’t have the ulterior motivation of diverting American scientists from their Job One, which is to fight climate change right here at home.”

  • Paul451

    Can’t find the original reference. Can’t find anything actually in the recent enabling legislation. {shrug} Treat it as some random garbage you read from some idiot on the internet.