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Trump Criticizes NASA Moon Mission Instead Urges to Focus on Going to Mars

NASA plans to build a space outpost in lunar orbit that can relay astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024

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FILE - NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to employees about the agency's progress toward sending astronauts to the moon and on to Mars, March 11, 2019, at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday criticized NASA for aiming to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024 and urged the space agency to focus instead on “much bigger” initiatives like going to Mars, undercutting his previous support for the lunar initiative.

“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” the president wrote on Twitter. “They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”

Trump’s statement, tweeted from Air Force One as he returned from Europe, appeared at odds with his administration’s recent push to return humans to the lunar surface by 2024 “by any means necessary,” five years sooner than the previous goal of 2028.

trump, moon, nasa
“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” the president wrote on Twitter. VOA

Space outpost

NASA plans to build a space outpost in lunar orbit that can relay astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, part of a broader initiative to use the moon as a staging ground for eventual missions to Mars. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Trump was only reaffirming NASA’s space plan.

“As @POTUS said, @NASA is using the Moon to send humans to Mars!” he said on Friday in a tweet referring to the president of the United States.

The accelerated timetable to land humans on the moon by 2024 ran into early trouble when the Trump administration asked a skeptical Congress in May to increase NASA’s 2020 budget proposal by $1.6 billion as a “down payment” to accommodate the accelerated goal.

The accelerated timetable for going to the moon was a key recommendation in March of the new National Space Council led by Vice President Mike Pence.

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NASA plans to build a space outpost in lunar orbit that can relay astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. VOA

‘Sustainable human presence’

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 program takes its name from the twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of the moon in Greek mythology.

ALSO READ: NASA to Open Parts of ISS to More Commercial Opportunities Including Private Astronaut Missions

NASA’s Apollo program landed the first men on the moon 50 years ago on July 20. 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.

Private companies are also joining the race to the moon. Billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos last month unveiled a mock-up of a lunar lander being built by his Blue Origin rocket company and touted his moon goals as part of a strategy aimed at capitalizing on the Trump administration’s push to establish a lunar outpost in just five years. (VOA)

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NASA Selects Missions to Study Sun, its Effects on Space Weather

One of the selected missions will study how the Sun drives particles and energy into the solar system

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NASA, Missions, Sun
The launch date for the two missions is no later than August 2022, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday. Pixabay

NASA has selected two new missions to study the Sun and its dynamic effects on space weather.

The launch date for the two missions is no later than August 2022, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday.

One of the selected missions will study how the Sun drives particles and energy into the solar system and a second will study the Earth’s response.

“These missions will do big science, but they’re also special because they come in small packages, which means that we can launch them together and get more research for the price of a single launch,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington.

NASA, Missions, Sun
NASA has selected two new missions to study the Sun and its dynamic effects on space weather. Pixabay

The Sun generates a vast outpouring of solar particles known as the solar wind, which can create a dynamic system of radiation in space called space weather.

Near Earth, where such particles interact with our planet’s magnetic field, the space weather system can lead to profound impact on human interests, such as astronauts’ safety, radio communications, GPS signals and utility grids on the ground.

The more we understand what drives space weather and its interaction with the Earth and lunar systems, the more we can mitigate its effects – including safeguarding astronauts and technology crucial to NASA’s Artemis programme to the Moon.

One of the two missions that NASA has selected is the Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, or PUNCH. This mission will focus directly on the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, and how it generates the solar wind.

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The second mission is Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites, or TRACERS. The TRACERS investigation was partially selected as a NASA-launched rideshare mission, meaning it will be launched as a secondary payload with PUNCH.

TRACERS will observe particles and fields at the Earth’s northern magnetic cusp region – the region encircling the Earth’s pole, where our planet’s magnetic field lines curve down towards the Earth, NASA said. (IANS)