As evidenced by his proposed “Space Force,” Donald Trump’s focus hasn’t been limited to terrestrial pursuits of late. In fact, at a campaign rally in Minnesota this week, the president declared, “We’re re-opening NASA. We are going to be going to space.”
As the New York Times noted, the boast didn’t really make any sense.
[C]ontrary to Mr. Trump’s puzzling suggestion, NASA has been operational since its creation in 1958 and is already in space.
NASA is currently conducting dozens of missions in space, including exploring Mars, studying Jupiter and reaching the outer edges of the solar system. Three American astronauts are also currently staffing and conducting experiments on the International Space Station.
That’s true, though we can take this a bit further.
Trump’s boast, for example, about “re-opening” the space agency that hadn’t closed also obscures the fact that the latest White House budget called for significant cuts to investments in NASA.
More recently, the president tapped a congressman with highly dubious qualifications to lead NASA – the first politician to ever lead the agency.
By all appearances, Trump wants to be seen as forward-thinking and ambitious, so he effectively uses space for its symbolic significance. It’d be more effective if he had any idea what he was talking about.