Trump Invokes Dream of Footprints on Distant Worlds

Trump Invokes Dream of Footprints on Distant Worlds

In his first speech to Congress, President Donald Trump mentioned the human spaceflight program, though with too little specificity to clarify what he has in mind for the U.S. space program.  Still, the fact that the space program was mentioned at all could be a positive indication that his Administration will support it against the backdrop of expected deep budget cuts for non-defense programs.

Word that Trump would say something about human spaceflight in his speech to a joint session of Congress tonight became public late this afternoon. 

The short sentence appears close to the end of the speech:  “American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.”

The space community is certain to dissect those words and try to divine their meaning — what worlds (is the Moon a “distant world”?), on what timeline, with the government and the private sector playing what roles — but useful analysis will have to await further information. 

A first step will be his FY2018 budget request.  A “budget blueprint” already has been delivered to agencies by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) providing guidance, but a detailed request will not be submitted to Congress for several weeks.  Overall, the Administration plans to request a $54 billion increase for defense programs, coupled with a $54 billion decrease for non-defense agencies like NASA. 

Deep cuts planned for the State Department and foreign aid have already created consternation in Congress, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, a fellow Republican, saying the budget request will be “dead on arrival.” 

The sentence does not resolve any of the issues about the future of the human spaceflight program, but at least signals that the President supports the overall concept.

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