A former communications official for the US president reveals in his upcoming book that Donald Trump apparently proposed an almost unlimited budget to NASA so that they could send men to Mars before the end of his term as president.
First the Moon!
Conquering Mars is a dream, however in July 2017 the American Space Agency announced that they didn’t have the means to do it. This came as a deft blow after five years of communication and development about American advances in space exploration. At this time Donald Trump had been president for several months already.
However in December 2017, two announcements attracted the attention of the press. The first announcement was a directive from the President for NASA to advance their space exploration. The idea was to establish a base on the moon, which would then serve as a sort of launching pad for a mission to the red planet. A few days later, NASA declared that it wanted to send a ship in 2069 to the Alpha Centauri system, a well-known exoplanet located 4.4 light-years away from Earth.
A revealing book
Cliff Sims worked as a communications aide for Donald Trump during his presidential campaign and then in the west wing of the White House. However Mr Sims is now the author of a revealing book about the president published on the 29 January 2019 called Team of Vipers : My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House.
The New York Magazine – which received extracts of the book – published an article on the 22 January which mentioned a conversation between Donald Trump and the American astronaut Peggy Whitson taking place in April 2017, a few month prior to NASA’s announcement regarding their lack of resources for space exploration.
Donald Trump: “Tell me, Mars — what do you see a timing for actually sending humans?“
Peggy Whitson: “Well, I think as your bill directed, it would be in the 2030s…Unfortunately spaceflight takes a lot of time and money, so getting there will take some international cooperation.
Donald Trump: “Well, I think we want to do it in my first term or at worst in my second term…So I think we’ll have to speed that up a little bit.”
Not only a question of budget
Donald Trump also mentioned the possibility of increasing the NASA budget “through the roof” so that they could solely concentrate on sending people to Mars instead of their other projects. However although NASA suffers from financial limitations, a mission to Mars would not be feasible for another quarter of a century for other reasons than financial backing.
During an announcement made by NASA in November 2018, the agency stated that the first astronauts would be on Mars in 2043, definitively sidelining the hasty intentions of Donald Trump. The American space agency declared that they need to regulate technical problems which are still posing some problems. Problems include, among others, the unknown effect of long periods of weightlessness. With current technologies, it would be possible to reach Mars in nine months however fears about the project concern astronauts lack of calcium, which could severely impact their bones and retina.