, 11 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Here are a few tweets to explain why I'm really concerned about the Moon 2024 program. As one DC source told me, "The human spaceflight enterprise is about to go over the cliff."
The @VP set this into motion nearly two months ago now. He gave an absolutely tremendous speech, highlighting some of NASA and the aerospace industry's problems. He identified some solutions. Honestly, it was brilliant.

NASA was asked how much funding it needed to accomplish this, and the answer was a lot. ($6b-$8b a year, per sources). What was the White House response to this? Naturally, they said that is way too much, and Congress will never support it.
This was the point at which Pence's intervention was needed. He said NASA would reach the Moon "by any means necessary." This would include either a) a lot more funding or b) a new direction using cheaper rockets and more low-Earth orbit assembly.
But Pence has been MIA, at least publicly. The $1.6 billion figure NASA cited Monday is a pittance if you're going to do this mission with SLS, Gateway, Orion, and a three-stage lunar lander. It's not even a down payment. It's kicking the can down the road.
But it's not just the money, that's not really the point. The funding source is the real poison pill, and it may do lasting harm to NASA and human spaceflight. Why? Because the White House wants to raid the Pell Grant Reserve Fund. Yes, money for poor kids to go to college.
Let's go back to the 1970s. Here's what one prominent congressional critic said of shuttle.

''There was this whole empire of people left over from the Apollo program with nothing to do. And to sustain their efforts, they needed show business. And manned flight was the drama.''
That was Walter Mondale, by the way. He represented the view of Democrats who wanted to spend money on domestic programs to help Americans, not on space programs. That view has never really gone away. "We have a lot of problems here on Earth, why are we worrying about space?"
Well, guess what. The current choice facing Democrats in the House is as follows:

-- Trump Moon program that could give him a historical achievement at the end of a second term.

-- Supporting education for poor kids.

That is literally the choice this White House has offered.
By framing the choice in this way, NASA has been politicized. The issue may even work its way into the nascent 2020 election, and not in a good way for the spaceflight enterprise. Also important to understand: This was not a decision made by @JimBridenstine. He's been handed it.
And now he has to sell it. I wish him well.

The world of space policy remains ever interesting. But probably not that productive.
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