Boldly Going

The Biden administration has set out to dismantle Trump’s legacy, except in one area: Space.

In his first two weeks in office, President Biden wasted no time dismantling wide swaths of Donald Trump’s legacy, revoking more than 30 orders signed by his predecessor, reports The Washington Post.

But there is one area of the former president’s policy that Biden has embraced: space. The White House has announced support for two of Trump’s signature initiatives - the Artemis program, NASA’s effort to return astronauts to the lunar surface, and the Space Force, the sixth branch of the armed services.

The endorsement of the Artemis programme means it will become the first major deep-space human exploration effort with funding to survive a change in presidents since Apollo, after several fitful efforts to send astronauts back to the moon and beyond ultimately went nowhere.


For decades, presidential administrations have pointed NASA at varying targets - the moon, Mars, even an asteroid - only to have them abandoned by new occupants of the White House. That has frustrated proponents of space exploration, tarnished NASA’s reputation and spawned lamentations that the Space Age’s golden era of the 1960s and ’70s will never be re-created.


The Trump administration embraced exploration and directed NASA to speed up its moon campaign, directing it to land another man, and the first woman, on the lunar surface by 2024. Despite its lobbying campaign, the White House did not receive the full funding, some $3.3 billion, it said it needed to meet that goal. But for the first time since Apollo, Congress last year appropriated nearly $1 billion for a spacecraft capable of flying astronauts to and from the lunar surface.


Last month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration wholeheartedly embraced the programme. “I’m very excited about it now to tell my daughter all about it,” she said.


That position stands in stark contrast with those of previous administrations. During the presidency of George W. Bush, NASA was directed to go to the moon. Under Barack Obama, reaching an asteroid and Mars was the goal. Under Trump, it became the moon again.


Since coming into office, however, Biden has shown an interest in space. He installed a moon rock in the Oval Office, and the White House published a video of him watching NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on Mars last month. Afterward Biden called to congratulate Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator, who has spent more than 30 years at the space agency.

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