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The Federalist has published another op-ed by me today: How Trump Can Drain The Space Swamp That Wants To Engulf Him. The key paragraphs:
Right now it appears, based on these news stories, that the Trump administration is gearing up to do the same, with Trump’s grand achievement being a lunar space station, to be built by the mid-2020s, with a possible specific goal of 2026, the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Whether this lunar space station concept makes sense is a subject for a different column. The point here is that it appears that the international community and the big space contractors are all converging on this concept, and are making a big push to convince the Trump administration to endorse it.
Based on this pressure, I fully expect Trump to make this endorsement. However, the key to understanding whether Trump is the revolutionary figure he and many of his supporters claim him to be will be how he frames such a declaration.
If he ties it to continuing funding for SLS, he will prove that he is part of the problem, not the solution. SLS is simply too expensive and unwieldy. No nation can seriously mount the manned exploration and settlement of the solar system upon it.
For Trump to adopt it as the core of his lunar space station proposal would mean that his goal has nothing to do with making America great again. Instead, the goal will be the continuing distribution of pork to Congressional districts and to our international partners, as we have seen now for the past twelve years since SLS/Orion was first proposed in 2004. Nothing has flown, but each year Congress has made sure that about $4 billion was distributed to these players.
Trump does have other options, however, even if they include building a space station orbiting the Moon….
Note: Rand Simberg makes some similar points in his own op-ed yesterday.