During a “Friends of Ireland” luncheon at Capitol Hill on Wednesday, President Donald Trump gave a vision for the United States’ space program, and praised former President John F. Kennedy for his lofty space ambitions.
“We’re looking at Mars by the way, in case anybody hasn’t seen,” Trump told the crowd. “Trying to top him (Kennedy).”
President John F. Kennedy announced his goal of putting a man on the moon in a speech to Congress in May 1961.
“Kennedy called for an ambitious space exploration program that included not just missions to put astronauts on the moon, but also a Rover nuclear rocket, weather satellites and other space projects,” Space.com reported.
Before he was assassinated in 1963, Kennedy encouraged the U.S. to win the “space race” with the Soviet Union. Six years after Kennedy’s death, NASA’s Apollo 11 mission landed the first two humans on the moon on July 20, 1969.
At Friends of Ireland luncheon, Pres. Trump praises JFK for setting U.S.'s sights on reaching the moon. "We're looking at Mars, by the way…We're trying to top him." https://t.co/NkJuIoh4fP pic.twitter.com/0AA6ZV07gx
— ABC News (@ABC) March 15, 2018
Trump admires Kennedy’s success, and plans to top it.
“Very soon we’re going to Mars. You wouldn’t be going to Mars if my opponent won, that I can tell you. You wouldn’t even be thinking about it,” he said.
“We’re going to get there,” the president continued. “It’s moving along pretty good. A lot of things have happened, Mike, having to do with that subject. Way ahead of schedule.”
According to The Hill, a return trip to the moon and an eventual trip to Mars has been a primary goal of Trump’s space policy. With that goal in mind, in December Trump re-established the National Space Council, which advises the president on space policy.
Vice President Pence was chosen as the point person on Trump’s space exploration ambitions.
Trump’s speech comes in the wake of new research findings released from NASA regarding the effects a lengthy trip to Mars may have on a human body.
Dubbed “The Twin Study,” NASA sent astronaut Scott Kelly, an identical twin, to space for one year to measure how space travel affects biological systems.
They found that Kelly’s DNA was altered while in space and is no longer identical to his twin brother, Mark Kelly.
“NASA has a grasp on what happens to the body after the standard-duration six-month missions aboard the International Space Station, but Scott Kelly’s one-year mission is a stepping stone to a three-year mission to Mars,” a statement from NASA explained.
“Research from the landmark Twins Study will inform NASA’s Human Research Program studies for years to come, as NASA continues to prioritize the health and safety of astronauts on spaceflight missions.”
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