Trump Knows Nothing About Space or Science.

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The President Can’t Seem to Understand What the NASA Administrator Tells Him.

Last Friday the President met with Apollo 11 astronauts and NASA officials to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. During that photo op, Trump repeatedly grilled NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about why we can’t just go directly to Mars. The barrage of questions, along with his continued insistence on building a separate Space Force, and a contradictory tweet a few weeks ago in which he bashed his own programs have convinced me that Trump knows nothing about space or science.  

Full Disclosure: I’ve had a disdain for the current occupant of the oval office for years. I admit I’m against the man and that I am writing from a place of bias. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s willfully ignorant, maniacal, and dangerous.

Politico provided a recording of the event in the following tweet:

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Bridenstine has explained in public many times about how we need to go back to the Moon. He’s pointed out that we haven’t explored the polar regions fully. He’s told us that the water there can be used to make rocket fuel. The NASA Administrator outlined his vision for using a sustainable lunar base to proving ground for the tech that will get us to Mars. It’s clear the President hasn’t been listening, and that Trump knows nothing about space.

First the Moon, Then Mars.

This has been the plan for a while now. In fact, it was Beeblebrox’s first space policy directive back in 2017. Pence has also stuck to the Moon in his talking points, telling Bridenstine that he wants the first woman on the Moon to be an American. 

And yet, Trump’s questions persisted. He sat there and made Bridenstine explain once again why going to the Moon first was so important. Then he kept asking why we couldn’t just go directly to Mars. Then I smacked my own head repeatedly.  

It’s Not That We Can’t; It’s That We Shouldn’t Yet

To be fair, the President was sitting in the Oval Office with Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, both of whom have been very vocal about not returning to the moon and focusing on going directly to Mars. I want to be clear here: I have the utmost respect for both Aldrin and Collins. I’ve never been to space or the Moon. Both of them have. But I disagree with their statements.

If you look at what Collins and Aldrin are actually saying, most of their criticism revolves around the fact that NASA hasn’t done a whole lot of human exploration in the last 50 years. Both have contended that if we’d been united in purpose we could have already been to Mars. Those things are true. They are not, however, grounded in the reality of now.

I also write this with all due respect to Collins and Aldrin. They were both fighter pilots. They weren’t generals. They weren’t administrators. There is a reason we don’t let the ground troops and junior officers make overall strategic decisions. While both Collins and Aldrin have been to the moon, neither of them has run NASA.

So when Trump turned to Collins and asked him his thoughts, and Collins replied with “Mars direct,” I give that about as much credence as a dignitary asking a battle-ready Marine if he wants to take the hill while all of the generals are saying, “Sir, the plans aren’t in place yet.” Of course the Marine want’s to storm the hill. That’s what he was trained to do. 

Not Even Smart Enough to Listen to Smart People Around Him

I don’t know Jim Bridenstine Personally.  I’ve been covering him a lot lately, and I’ve seen numerous interviews with him, though. I know that he was not Trump’s first choice to be NASA Administrator. He used to be a climate change denier. But once he started running NASA, he started listening to the scientists he worked with. They showed him the data, and he understands now. 

Trump doesn’t do that. Trump listens to whoever tells him what he wants to hear. From extreme right-wing media outlets to the yes-men in his administration, he likes it when people tell him he’s right. That’s okay for a normal narcissist, I guess. The Presidency demands intellectual curiosity, however. Trump has none. When it comes to anything other than pulling the wool over people’s eyes, Trump knows nothing.

Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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