Trump urges NASA to speed up Mars mission
The US President has stated that he would like to see astronauts visiting Mars before the year 2021.
This somewhat unrealistic timetable was hinted at during a recent White House phone call with astronaut Peggy Whitson who had just achieved a record-breaking 534th day in space.
"On behalf of our nation and on behalf of the world I'd like to congratulate you," said Trump.
While the commander-in-chief seemed enthusiastic about NASA's accomplishments aboard the International Space Station, it was clear that he had his sights set a lot further afield.
"Tell me, Mars, what do you see a timing for actually sending humans?" he asked Whitson.
"Well, I think as your bill directed it would be in the 2030s," she replied. "Unfortunately spaceflight takes a lot of time and money, so getting there will take some international cooperation."
"Well, I think we want to do it in my first term or at worst in my second term," said Trump. "So I think we'll have to speed that up a little bit."
Suffice to say, achieving a manned mission to Mars before Trump's first term ends in 2021 would take something of a miracle - as would launching such a mission before 2025 - the time at which Trump's potential second term in office would come to an end.
"We're absolutely very ready to go to Mars, all of us would be very happy to go," Whitson replied.
Exactly when that will be, however, remains to be seen.