Trump calls for speeding up trips to Mars

Trump in Oval Office
President Donald Trump chats with astronauts on the International Space Station from his desk in the White House’s Oval Office, flanked by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins on the left and Ivanka Trump on the right. (White House via YouTube)

Humans on Mars by 2024? President Donald Trump set that time frame today, almost certainly in jest, during a congratulatory video call to the International Space Station and its record-setting commander, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.

The purpose of the orbital linkup from the Oval Office was to recognize Whitson’s new status as the U.S. record-holder for most cumulative time in space – “534 days and counting,” Trump noted.

But the topic soon turned to Mars, and how soon humans would be journeying to the Red Planet. When Trump asked Whitson what the time frame was, Whitson noted that the bill he signed into law last month called for the journeys to begin in the 2030s.

“Well, we want to try and do it during my first term, or at worst during my second term,” Trump replied. “So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?”

“We’ll do our best,” Whitson said, amid smiles and laughter.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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