Enlarge / President Donald Trump speaks after signing the NASA transition authorization act in the Oval Office of the White House. (credit: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)
Prior to Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump had made only a few passing references to space during the first two months of his administration.

That changed during a signing ceremony for S.422, NASA’s first authorization act in seven years. “Today, we’re taking the initial steps toward a bold and bright new future for American spaceflight,” the president said.
For all of the pomp associated with its passage, the authorization act seems like a relatively inconsequential document.
It keeps NASA more or less on the same course it has been on, providing funding for large programs like the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft, but not pairing the money with a clear mandate (and the extra funding) needed to use these vehicles for a meaningful exploration program.

What was notable about Tuesday’s bill signing ceremony, however, was the glimpse it provided into Trump’s view of the space program.

Twice, during the short ceremony, he mentioned jobs.
In reading from prepared remarks, he noted that the bill addresses NASA’s human exploration, space science, and technology goals. “We support jobs,” the president added. “It’s about jobs also.”
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