It seems a little far-fetched that Presidentish Joe Biden might put the squeeze on NASA’s next manned Moon landing, but that’s what it sounded like when the cranky POTUS got into it with SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk on Friday.
During a rare television press conference, Biden snipped at Musk, wishing him “luck on his trip to the Moon.”
But Musk isn’t planning a trip to the Moon.
NASA plans to return astronauts to the Moon sometime in the next few years with the Artemis program. Begun in 2017 under then-President Donald Trump, the first unmanned Artemis test flight is supposed to happen later this year. In 2025, Artemis III is supposed to put a crew on the lunar surface for the first time since Apollo 17, 50 years ago.
Artemis missions are supposed to initially launch using Boeing’s SLS heavy-lift rocket, which has yet to fly. Last year — under the Biden Administration — NASA chose SpaceX’s reusable Human Landing System (HLS) to serve as the lunar lander.
SpaceX doesn’t have a Moon program; Musk wants his company to start the first human colony on Mars.
America has a Moon program; SpaceX is just one of the contractors.
Even though Artemis was conceived under the prior Administration, the Biden White House has been seemingly excited about it, earmarking billions of dollars to “land the first woman and person of color on the moon.”
So why did Biden wish Musk sarcastic-sounding “luck” on “his” lunar landing?
It’s the economy, stupid. Or in this case, it’s Biden’s stupid economy, rife with inflation and probably headed toward stagflation or even recession. That’s according to several big-name economists and a certain iconoclastic space/electric vehicle billionaire.
In an email to executives at Tesla last week, Musk wrote that he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy.
You know, like that feeling you get every time you gas up the car, buy steaks for grilling, or even just try to buy formula for your baby.
“Musk’s stark warning of a potential recession,” CNN reported, “is the most direct and high-profile forecast of its kind in the industry.
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Someone apparently leaked Musk’s letter to Reuters because it was all over the news reports on Friday, including a special guest appearance at Biden’s press conference.
Biden is still trying to sell the notion that the economy is just dandy under his stewardship, and his prickly ego couldn’t stand to be asked about Musk’s “super bad feeling.”
Biden was asked about Musk’s “super bad feeling” at his press conference and fired back with a few comments about how other major car companies making electric vehicles are investing in the economy.
“Well, let me tell you, while Elon Musk is talking about that, Ford is increasing their investment overwhelmingly. I think Ford is increasing investment in building new electric vehicles, 6,000 new employees, union employees, I might add, in the Midwest,” he stated, adding that “The former Chrysler Corporation, Stellantis, they are also making similar investments in electric vehicles. Intel is adding 20,000 new jobs, making computer chips.”
To be fair, Ford and Chrysler have to make huge investments because — like the other traditional carmakers — their electric vehicle efforts have paled compared to Tesla’s.
Then things got weird.
“So, you know, lots of luck on his trip to the Moon. I mean, I don’t — I mean, you know…” Biden said, trailing off.
Actually, nobody knows what Biden meant, even if he did say “you know.”
Was Biden just getting in a jab at Musk, while not considering all the workers at NASA, Boeing, and countless contractors he insulted? Not to mention the astronauts themselves, including a woman and a person of color.
Or did Biden forget that Artemis is a U.S. government program, and that Biden himself is its chief executive, at least nominally?
Or did Biden mistake NASA’s Moon program for Musk’s dreams of building a city on Mars?
I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of anyone conflating the Moon and Mars, but Biden’s big mouth does spew a lot of nonsense.
In this case, Biden’s big mouth apparently decided it was okay to deride the most important government space program so far this century while expressing casual disdain for the lives of American astronauts.