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A NASA astronaut on the moon. Photo: NASA JSC

President Trump signaled he may be souring on his administration's stated plan to return humans to the Moon by 2024 —4 years earlier than NASA had previously planned, in a tweet on Friday.

Why it matters: In order to meet the administration's aggressive timetable, the space agency needs focus and resources. Presidential tweets such as this one, in which Trump said the administration should not be playing up its moon mission, can cause confusion and sap morale for those working on this project.

  • Such statements could also make it more difficult for the space agency to muster support on Capitol Hill for the money it needs to accomplish the goal, which involves returning humans to the Moon as a step on the way to reaching Mars.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Quick take: While on its surface the tweet appears to withdraw support for the Moon program, known as Artemis, the truth is likely more complicated. NASA is planning to use its Artemis Moon mission as a jumping off point for getting to Mars. The agency's big push at the moment, however, is shoring up resources to get them back to the Moon.

  • Effectively, Trump appears to be giving NASA marketing advice, saying the agency should be talking more about Mars, and less about the Moon.

Background: The mission to the Moon has been spearheaded in the administration by Vice President Mike Pence, who also leads the National Space Council.

  • In May, NASA submitted a revised budget proposal asking for $1.6 billion in additional funding to make the Artemis mission to the moon happen by 2024. This request has been met with skepticism on Capitol Hill.
  • The mission represents the latest in NASA's moonshot whiplash that's plagued the agency since the Apollo program.

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.