A month after declaring the mission of his administration to go to the Moon before planning a trip to Mars, President Trump changed his mind about the whole thing and stated it through his tweet that was sent on June 7, which confused a lot of people.
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! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2019
He stated in his tweet that NASA should not plan to go to the Moon because the United States was able to do it 50 years ago. The President also said that NASA should focus on bigger things instead, like going to Mars.
In response to this sudden shift, headlines and Twitter responses speculated that President Trump flip-flopped regarding his goals to return astronauts to the Moon and that he was missing some critical points about the Earth's Moon and Mars.
The NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, released an official statement the following day to clarify the tweet of President Trump. He said that the President's tweet is not connected to the change in policy and that the space agency will continue to work on the preliminary flight around the Moon by 2022. The returning astronauts to the Moon is the primary step to reach Mars, and the Moon could be a refueling site before going on the nine-month trip.
According to The Planetary Society, a nonprofit group that focuses on space research and education said that the President's tweet wasn't harmless. The tweet caused confusion and hinted on policy implications linked to future space exploration.
The Planetary Society tweeted in response to the President; they said that the White House needs to clarify its expectations so that NASA can continue on their journey on science and exploration. They also said that the success of NASA's plans depends on the clarity and consistency in national policy. Clarity and consistency are needed because of the amount of time and effort to plan such a huge exploration project to complete it.
The reaction from the people to the President's tweet was also confusing because much of the media treated it as though he declared an actual policy change when in fact he didn't, said political scientist John Logsdon from George Washington University.
He also said that reacting to Trump's tweets like they represent a change in policy is overblown and that it is dangerous in terms of continuity, and it reflects on what the government is doing.
Part of the reason for the confusion is the sudden change from the space exploration policy. Vice President Mike Pence had put forward a plant to push the moon exploration in 2024, around four years earlier than the original plan. NASA asked Congress for more funding to achieve the target year.