President Trump is not only promising the Moon, he is promising to bring the United States to Mars as well and “very soon.”
The president revealed on Monday, during his visit to Tokyo, that the United States and Japan will be working together on a historic space mission.
In the announcement, Trump said he anticipates the mission will happen “very soon,” the Washington Examiner reports.
“We’ll be going to the moon,” Trump said. “We’ll be going to Mars very soon. It’s very exciting. And from a military standpoint, there is nothing more important right now than space.”
The Washington Examiner continues:
Trump has repeatedly outlined Mars ambitions. In 2017, he signed a bill that put NASA on a timetable of sending a mission to Mars in 2033.
However, it emerged earlier this year that he had pushed NASA officials to commit to a much more ambitious target of launching with his first term — “or, at worst, during my second term,” according to a memoir published by former White House communications aide Cliff Sims.
Space exploration experts suggest the timetable is unrealistic.
More realistic is a return to the moon. Two months ago, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the U.S. will send astronauts to the moon within five years.
According to Bloomberg, Trump’s desire to send U.S. astronauts to the moon comes amid a space race with China; “opening another front in the battle for influence,” the report adds. And:
The U.S. and China are in a race to explore Mars and beyond, another front in a battle for global influence that encompasses not just trade but technological and military superiority.
While the U.S. hasn’t landed an astronaut on the moon since 1972, China became the first country to land a spacecraft on its far side. It’s now planning further missions to return samples to Earth before assessing the feasibility of a lunar research base.
Trump’s interest in reigniting American space exploration comes after years of budget concerns, including the cancellation of shuttle flights.
The Associated Press adds the Mars visit is not likely to happen very soon: “The U.S. will almost certainly not be sending humans to Mars in his presidency, even if he wins a second term.”
The report confirms a visit to the Moon is much more likely:
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
The Trump administration has placed a priority on the moon over Mars for human exploration (President Barack Obama favored Mars) and hopes to accelerate NASA’s plan for returning people to the lunar surface. It has asked Congress to approve enough money to make a moon mission possible by 2024, instead of 2028. But even if that happens, Mars would come years after that. International space agencies have made aspirational statements about possibly landing humans on Mars during the 2030s.