Trump Briefly Mentions Space in Inaugural Address

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump mentioned space briefly in his inaugural address on Friday.

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.

What this means is anyone’s guess.

There have been stories that Trump is considering sticking with plans to send astronauts to Mars. Also that he has been meeting with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who has a plan to do exactly that. It’s the sort of dramatic plan that might appeal to Trump’s desire to make America great.

On the other hand, there’s this story from The Hill: Trump team prepares dramatic cuts. Although the story makes no mention of NASA, it makes clear that Trump seems prepared to deeply cut federal spending.

And here is the dilemma that has frustrated presidents that has frustrated presidents for decades relating to space. It’s easy enough to raise your arms and point to the moon or Mars and say let’s go, but much more difficult to fund the program sufficiently to actually go there.

The one thing that might — and I stress, might — work is for Trump to cancel SLS and Orion and see if the private sector can produce cheaper alternatives for deep space exploration.

But, therein lies the other dilemma that has frustrated presidents. Congress would oppose such a move with every fiber of its being. Trump might be stubborn enough to stick with such a decision, but who knows if he even wants to make it. Large layoffs in states like Alabama, Texas and Florida that were vital to putting in the White House would make it more difficult for him to stay there.

While Trump works out his plans, the transition at NASA has already begun. Administrator Charlie Bolden and Deputy Administrator Dava Newman both left their positions yesterday because they were political appointees of Barack Obama.

Robert Lightfoot, the space agency’s top civil servant, is serving as acting administrator until Trump nominated a permanent replacement and he or she is confirmed by the Senate.

Trump has made a pair of appointments relating to the agency. The new president has named Greg Autry as White House liaison to NASA. Autry is assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California. He was part of the landing team assigned to the agency during the transition.

The president has also named Erik Noble as White House senior advisor at NASA. Noble worked on the Trump campaign and worked as a scientists on atmospheric science at the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York City for seven years.


  • Jacob Samorodin

    Look! What are the priorities in your life? Good-paying job? Family? Safe neighborhood? Health? Strategic/international security? Where does spaceflight fit in? If you are a space-fanatic regardless of age, income or occupation, the answer is obvious. If you are a university graduate with a well-paying white-collar job, you probably put spaceflight high up on the list. If you are a blue-collar worker concerned about keeping your job in this day of outsourcing, struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, and hoping for better pay and tax breaks, spaceflight is low on your priority list (and you are the majority in America).

  • ThomasLMatula

    I am not surprised. President Trump grew up during Project Apollo. What better symbol of America’s greatest could there be than Americans walking on the Moon, something no nation has done before or since. I expect HSF will do well at NASA under President Trump, very well.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Space fits in when it creates good paying blue collar jobs for Americans. 500,000 Americans had direct employment as a result of Project Apollo. Assuming a standard RIMS multiplier of 2.5 that would equal 3 million jobs for Project Apollo. Not all, indeed, probably not even a majority were university graduates. And lets not forget the millions of more jobs in industries spun off of space technology.

    Lunar industrialization would have a similar impact as would Elon Musk’s settlement of Mars. There’s a Solar System of wealth waiting for America if someone has the audacity to lead the way. Maybe Elon Musk shared that secret with President Trump 🙂

  • Jacob Samorodin

    You’re preaching to the choir, boy. But we are in the MINORITY. That’s the problem.

  • Dave Salt

    History shows that the true rationale for Apollo was as a cold war offensive (i.e. national security program to prove to the world that Capitalism beats Communism) and that Kennedy was “…not that interested in space”…
    …as he made clear about half way through that audio file (i.e. ~5 minutes).

    So, if you want Trump to repeat Apollo, be prepared to see lots of money spent on something that looks spectacular, creates lots of jobs but destroys any hope of affordable access to space for yet another generation!

  • Paul_Scutts

    It’s always unknown what a new President will decide to do. I totally agree with the article’s comments with regard to the SLS. Perhaps, something to consider with regard to funding cut-backs, the more politically palatable for Trump would be to target the ISS. Russia wants/is going to cut-back on their involvement and Trump may follow suit.

  • Kapitalist

    I think that the purpose of that sentence is to appeal to those who believe that the political climate doomsday myth is scientific and that not sacrificing human civilization for it is hostile against science. One of the purposes of the speech is to unify broader groups.

    I’m convinced that Trump will make sure that NASA focuses on a clear goal. With the sensational and very popular robotic successes during the last few years, doubling the priority of planetary and astrophysics could serve that purpose, and is easily done since they get a very tiny part of NASAs budget today. The military is of course close at heart and he has mentioned a missile defense, probably thinking of Reagan’s SDI. Astronauts to the Moon is what NASA planned for until Obama and seems realistic, reasonable to finance and can be done within 8 years. But Elon Musk is certainly appreciated for having all of his production in the USA, including building the worlds largest factory. Trump and Musk might agree on going to Mars under budget and before schedule. So nothing (but Obama’s ARM) is off the table!

    Elon Musk never cared about the climate myth. That was just convenient in order to make government finance the Solar power, battery and electric vehicle technologies he needs for his only real passion: the Mars project. Now that the climate doomsday myth is politically dead, he must instead go for patriotism and greatness in order to get the government help him reach Mars. These two very intelligent doers might very well get along. Peter Thiel is a common friend. And having Musk on the team would help Trump’s image among the climate doomsday believing snowflakes at the universities.

  • mike_shupp

    Let’s see … We’re going to “free the earth from the miseries of disease ” be cutting back and eventually eliminating Obamacare, and we’re going to “unlock the mysteries of space” ,,,

    My bet’s on about 2 billion bucks of NASA cuts bring announced this year with a hiring freeze if not layoffs. and about 2 billion bucks more cut from planned future missions, likely with another year or two delay in manned flights using the SLS.
    But we’ll be promised a really bright future in space, so there’ll be something to make all of us happy. Golly, I love politics!

  • And so you are Elon Musk’s designated spokesperson too?

    You are moving up fast in the space cadet world.

  • Isn’t that what we just got done doing and are doing again now?

  • Kapitalist

    Stop spamming, you troll! Hug a therapeutic plush pet, snowflake, in your fake world your longed after doomsday is actually coming now.

  • You think science is fake. In the immortal words of Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, ‘We’re not just making this shit up.’

    What is your position on the moon landing?

  • windbourne

    That will depend on how it is done.
    Getting to the moon should be seen as a step to lower our costs of space access. IOW, it should not be seen as all important for NASA, as much as for private space to get there.

  • windbourne

    who said that russia is cutting back on ISS?

  • delphinus100

    “- But Elon Musk is certainly appreciated for having all of his production in the USA, including building the world’s largest factory….”

    It’s in the nature of what SpaceX does, that precious little of it legally *could* be sourced outside of the US, ITAR being what it is.

    That, and Elon clearly believes in vertical integration, anyway.

  • Paul_Scutts

    Nothing is definite until it happens, windbourne, but the following shows the direction that Russia is leaning towards. Regards, Paul.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    My hope is that someone comes up with a “Falcon enabled” architecture to the Moon. If reliability of the Falcon program can be realized, it would make for an excellent base for a Near Earth architecture. So would Vulcan ACES, but Falcon is here and flies. With a wide range of payload capability options to choose from, it’s a great place to start.

  • Who cares what Tyson, the cut rate Sagan, says? Elifritz wouldn’t know science if it bit him on the ass.
    As for the Moon landing, it clearly wasn’t faked. The Nazi base didn’t get there by itself. LOL! Which is as sensible a reply as the Elifritz troll deserves.

  • Kapitalist

    It is not scientifically “proven” that the US (but not China!) “must” abolish all industry, energy, transport and agriculture to avoid doomsday. That is a political value judgement. Only Marxists lie that political decision making is science and not the peoples choice.

  • Kapitalist

    And because he relies on financial support from the government, which is almost necessary in a society where the government steals and spends most of the money. As he does with SpaceX via NASA, unrelated to the political climate panic. The unworkable hyper loop, with its exercise in vacuum engineering, is another example that Mars, and not the climate, is the focus of all his businesses.

  • Kapitalist

    Elon Musk said in an interview, when questioned, that he thought that a Falcon Heavy could preplace a return vehicle on the Moon, and that a Dragon could land next to it with another FH. An Apollo program in miniature. Maybe possible within 4 years at a low budget. And maybe motivated and sustainable in order to survey locations for a permanent base?

  • therealdmt

    It’s sad that we’re reduced to searching for scraps like this. (in-drawn breath) “He mentioned space!” (aww) But he didn’t say anything more than that brief mention.

    I did it too, lol.

    Man, this really emphasizes the need for “space” to be its own private sector sphere of the economy.

  • That’s so weird when I type ‘Mike Borgelt climate science” into the search bar I get a whole bunch of crank anti-science denier websites, Jo Nova, WUWT, realclimatescience, skeptoid, just to name the first few. Guess what, you may be an instrument designer and builder, but you are a science crank as well.

  • First of all, you are confusing science with mathematics, and for the most part eliminating carbon combustion will not eliminate all industry, energy, transport and agriculture. What it means is eliminating hundreds of million of years of stored solar energy in the form of carbon reserves as the middle man between the sun and the plants you need to live and the power you need to destroy the world in which you live. With solar, there will naturally be less destruction, but I understand how you need that destruction in order to hold on to your own personal power.

    You are an insane paranoid European fascist. For the definition of fascist, I can point you to Lawrence Britt’s nice essay outlining 14 characteristics of fascism.

  • Kapitalist

    Al Gore’s doomsday forecast 20 years ago has been scientifically disproven. It was more than two standard deviations wrong. It is not useful as an input for deciding anything. Whether people should try to manipulate the climate by abolishing all industry, all energy, all transports and all agriculture and starve billions to death, , or instead adapt to climate changes, natural and man made, is up to the people to decide. And in the US the people just decided to adapt. And you claim that this democratic political decision was “unscientific”???

    Recycling the carbon from the minerals to the atmosphere, from where it once came, has huge benefits for wildlife. The Earth is greening. Less area is needed for agriculture to feed a growing population better and better. Higher concentration of CO2 makes plants keep more water, so that dry areas are getting greener by the day. It is used in greenhouses for a reason. CO2 emissions turned out not to be Al Gore’s doomsday, instead it turned out to be a second creation of Paradise on Earth.

  • Kapitalist

    JFK put a man on the Moon.
    Obama put a man on the ladies’ loo.
    I think Trump is more like JFK than like Obama.

  • Awesome alternative ‘facts’.

    And of course, to top it off you can’t help confessing that you think you are the designated spokesperson for ‘the people’. Your ‘people’s’ committee is gong to have to find some new talking points if you are going to keep up with ‘the people’ of the United States of America. The last time America suddenly found out it was stupid, and were struck dumb with apathy and neglect, was way back in 1957.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Sounds like just the plan to have US astronauts on the moon for the 50th aniversity. how hard would it be to design the return vehicle in time?

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    My hope for Trump with space, is the moon. It’s a lot farther away then the ISS, is a huge challenge to have a base their, yet not to far away (like Mars) if something goes wrong, Earth is just a day or 2 away. The moon is the next logical step, and I hope he cancels the SLS, and uses Elon’s giant rocket to buildup a moon infrastructure, to fuel ships, do experiments on it, mine in, build a giant telescope, the moon has a lot to offer before we just pass it by onto Mars.

  • Kapitalist

    You’ve just held an election.

  • Kapitalist

    35 months left until end of 2019. That’s a tough deadline. But it would be a prestigious coup!

  • No I didn’t, and neither did you. The electoral collage did.

    ‘The people’ each have their own vote. It went like this.

    You have NOTHING to do about what goes on in my nation.

    You can comment all you want on it, as a foreign bad actor.

  • Patrick Chiles

    Here’s what I’d love to see: a Mars/Venus flyby taking advantage of the 2021 free-return window.
    Use the Inspiration Mars studies as a starting point. Orion’s heat shield would of course have to be substantially upgraded, along with the construction of hab and logistics modules. Handing NASA a “crash program” like this would give them a focus they’ve been sorely missing since, oh, 1972.
    We did a lot in a very short time back then and long-duration spaceflight is now much better understood. It would be a difficult goal but it seems achievable. Money is going to be an issue but if we’re already committed to building a spacecraft and launcher that we can only afford to fly once or twice, let’s make it count. It would be a mighty impressive feat.
    No flames, please. I’m seriously wondering how realistic this might be over a four-year time horizon. To my mind, the glacial pace of NASA hardware development would probably be harder to overcome than the actual technical challenges.

  • Hug Doug

    The optimal Earth-Mars-Earth free return trajectory IM wanted to utilize only repeats every 15 years or so, the length of the free return journey increases from 500 days to 730-1,200 days in other years. The next best Mars free return occurs in late 2032.

    The other bonus for IM is that 2018 is likely to be at the bottom of the solar minimum.

    So the increased duration coupled with increased solar activity as the Sun approaches solar maximum basically makes this idea a non-starter.

  • ThomasLMatula

    I teach about 300-400 business students a year. Whenever possible I include a lecture of the economic opportunities in space.

    Most are surprised they haven’t heard about those economic opportunities before in the media that just spends it’s time talking about life on Mars and some obscure astronomical discoveries.

    Most are also sadden that NASA is focused so much for looking for ET and on developing space.

  • ThomasLMatula

    And its doable. NASA went from sub-orbital Mercury flights to Apollo on the Moon in 98 months without any knowledge of the Moon’s surface, how to land on it or to do deep space human missions. We have a running start with what we know today.

    Of course what would be needed, besides funding, is a NASA Administrator like Gen. Worden who could clean the dead wood and bureaucrats out and restore NASA to what it was during Project Apollo.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    Really? Obama has ensured that the U.S. will have reliable affordable manned transportation to LEO through the CCP. His legacy will lead to NASASPA overwhelming dominance in sustaining a permanent manned presence in lunar orbit and beyond

  • Panice

    Trumps assertions of “facts” have true or mostly true about 15% of the time. That’s probably a good estimate of how often he keeps his promises or otherwise follows up on anything he says. You can save a lot of wasted time by simply ignoring him until he actually does something.