to infinity, and beyond
The Trump administration is reportedly considering a massive push for the U.S. space program, including a return to the moon and the "large-scale economic development of space," Politico reports. "A good part of the Trump administration would like a lot more aggressive, risk-taking, competitive entrepreneurial approach to space," explained former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. "A smaller but still powerful faction represents Boeing and the expensive old contractors who have soaked up money with minimum results."
The administration is torn between "old space" like NASA, which is supported by Trump's confidant, Peter Thiel, and "new space," including private groups like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin. "It is a big fight," said former Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Robert Walker, who is involved in the deliberations. "There are billions of dollars at stake. It has come to a head now when it has become clear to the space community that the real innovative work is being done outside of NASA."
Among Trump's possible goals, listed in internal documents obtained by Politico, is the intent to return to the moon in an "affordable" way by 2020, to create privately operated space stations, and to claim de facto properties on the moon for Americans.
But the massive ambitions might not find footing in reality, Andy Aldrin, the director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute, told Politico. "Clearly there is a very keen interest in bringing in commercial but there is still a lot of desire to maintain programmatic continuity," Aldrin said. "At some point those two things may not be consistent. At the end of the day there is only so much money to go around."