The tweet came one day after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told USA Today that the space agency will not be able to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 unless Congress approves the Trump administration's $1.6 billion budget increase request for the project.
At the end of his first year as president, Trump authorized NASA to "lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars".
Even though he said NASA shouldn't talk about it, Trump, himself, talked about going to the Moon a few weeks ago.
"They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!"
President Trump seemed to question his own accelerated human space program Friday afternoon with a surprise tweet saying NASA "should NOT be talking about going to the Moon".
"I don't think he's too much aware of Mars", Collins opined of Trump. But his off-the-cuff advice to stop talking about the moon may make things a little tricky for the witnesses at next Tuesday's congressional hearing on space science - and for Bridenstine and other NASA officials who are trying to build support for the Artemis program among congressional skeptics. Under NASA's plan, as many as two private astronauts per year could fly to the station and stay for up to 30 days on the space station - something estimated to cost $50 million per seat, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
CNN's Brian Stelter noted Trump has been focused on going back to the moon for some time.
Last month, the president said he wanted to include an additional $1.6 billion in his budget so the United States could "return to Space in a BIG WAY!" "But this is a good amount that gets us out of the gate in a very strong fashion and sets us up for the future".
SPD-1 directs NASA to establish a long-term, sustainable presence on and around the moon, and to use the experience gained in this effort to reach the ultimate human-spaceflight destination: Mars.
There are probably some frantic emails flying between NASA headquarters and the White House right now.