Houston we have a problem
June 7, 2019

President Trump's opinion of NASA's 2024 moon mission seems to have changed quite a bit in a matter of weeks.

Trump on Friday tweeted that NASA should "NOT be talking about going back to the moon" because "we did that 50 years ago." Instead, he said NASA should focus on "bigger things," including "Mars (of which the Moon is a part)," a confusing turn of phrase that might be a reference to the fact that NASA says "exploration of the moon and Mars is intertwined."

But this tweet downplaying the moon mission was surprising considering just three weeks ago, Trump proudly declared that "we are going back to the moon."

The Trump administration in March announced it was targeting 2024 for a mission to the moon rather than the previous goal of 2028, with Trump asking for more money for NASA in furtherance of this goal, although it has become increasingly unclear whether this new timeline is actually feasible.

Now, Trump seems to no longer support this endeavor or is at the very least encouraging NASA to focus on its "bigger" plans more than this mission his administration has been pushing. Like plenty of Trump's Twitter content, this odd tweet might appear to have come out of nowhere, but it seems to have been directly inspired by a Lou Dobbs segment. Brendan Morrow

May 24, 2019

The NASA executive tasked with strategizing a mission to the moon by 2024 has already resigned amid growing skepticism that the five-year deadline is feasible.

Mark Sirangelo on April 9 was appointed special assistant to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, with NASA saying at the time he would help develop the 2024 strategy, as is the Trump administration's goal. The administration has sped up the timeline from the previous goal of 2028, with Vice President Mike Pence saying in March, "Failure to achieve our goal to return an American astronaut to the moon in the next five years is not an option."

But six weeks later, Sirangelo has resigned, and Reuters reports that his "ouster was sealed by increasing skepticism that 2024 was a realistic deadline for moon landings." This also comes after a proposal from NASA to create a separate directorate for lunar missions was rejected by lawmakers. Bridenstine said on Thursday that "given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities."

President Trump has proposed providing an additional $1.6 billion to NASA in furtherance of this 2024 goal, but the administration has been met with resistance on Capitol Hill to taking that money from a Pell grant program surplus, The New York Times reports. Should NASA not get this additional money, Bridenstine says the timeline would probably move back to 2028. Brendan Morrow

March 26, 2019

The first all-female spacewalk at the International Space Station was planned for March 29 with astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch, but it's now off because NASA doesn't have the proper spacesuit size available for McClain.

As NASA explains, McClain "learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso — essentially the shirt of the spacesuit — fits her best." Since Koch also wears a medium, and only one suit in that size will be ready by Friday, the mission will now consist of Koch and a male astronaut, Nick Hague. NASA says that McClain is "tentatively scheduled" for a spacewalk on April 8 with a male astronaut, David Saint-Jacques.

While it might sound odd that McClain would just now be finding out what the right size for her is, Engadget points out that "there is no way to simulate the extended effects of zero gravity" on the body beforehand, also observing that McClain said in early March she had grown by two inches since she launched. And there actually are two medium sizes on the station; it's just that only one is configured for a spacewalk, and the other won't be ready in time for Friday, The New York Times reports.

NASA spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz told The Washington Post that despite this setback, the first all-female spacewalk is "inevitable." Brendan Morrow

October 15, 2018

Ryan Gosling's First Man did not quite achieve lift-off.

The Neil Armstrong biopic came in third place at the box office this weekend, with last week's releases, Venom and A Star Is Born, taking the number one and number two slots respectively, Box Office Mojo reports. It earned $16.5 million, despite projections it would break $20 million and potentially even $25 million, per Variety. But although it had this weak start, the film could still end up being a success if it holds steady over the coming weeks, a distinct possibility considering the amount of Oscar buzz it has.

It seems A Star Is Born, another critically-acclaimed movie with Oscar buzz, may have just taken the wind out of its sails, as the Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga musical grossed $28 million this weekend. That's only down about 33 percent compared to its debut, and it brings the film's total gross to nearly $100 million.

The biggest success story of the month, though, is Venom, which took the number one spot once again this weekend and grossed another $35 million after having the best October opening of all time. This brings the comic book film, based on the Spider-Man source material but without Spider-Man actually being in it, up to a domestic total of $142 million and counting, a massive success for Sony and a clear indicator that their planned universe of Spider-Man films has gotten off on the right foot with audiences. Brendan Morrow

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