11:49 GMT08 July 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A Twitter statement by US President Donald Trump on Friday that appeared to criticize NASA for focusing too much on the Moon and not enough on Mars should be read as an endorsement of plans to use the Moon as a waystation to reach the Red Planet, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said  on Monday.

    "Nothing has changed", Bridenstine said during a townhall event. "Some people have tried to read more into this than there is. We’re going to Mars. The moon is a waypoint. We need to learn how to live and work on another world."

    Bridenstine noted that the Moon is a three-day journey from Earth.

    "You don’t want to do that when your journey home [from Mars] is two years from now," Bridenstine said.

    READ MORE: NASA Selects 3 Moon Landing Service Providers for Artemis Program

    On Friday, Trump set the world of television news in a tizzy of speculation over what the president meant in a tweet concerning NASA’s plans for the moon.

    "For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon - We did that 50 years ago," Trump said. "They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!"

    Bridenstine urged pundits to look closer at what the president's words.

    "If you read his tweet he talks about going to Mars and he says in parenthesis that the moon is a part of that," Bridenstine said.

    READ MORE: You Too Can (Pay to) Go to Space! NASA Opens ISS to Private Tourists, Businesses

    A human voyage to Mars is more difficult because landings and takeoffs need to be scheduled when the Red Planet is on the same side of the sun as Earth - an alignment that occurs once every two years.

    In addition, the flight between Earth and Mars requires an additional five to 10 months, depending on the speed of the spacecraft.


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    Jim Bridenstine, NASA, Moon, Mars, Donald Trump, Twitter
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