As predicted, President Donald Trump called for an increase in American space exploration, suggesting that the country should shoot for manned landing missions, during his first address to a joint session of Congress.
Trump, somewhat uncharacteristically, stuck fairly close to the official transcript during the Tuesday address. The president touted campaign promises he says his administration has already kept, promised tax reform, and pledged to eliminate ISIS before briefly touching on space science.
The 59-minutes address ended on an optimistic note, and that’s where Trump decided to shoot for the stars.
“Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people,” he said, saying that American scientists could cure diseases and explore the cosmos.
“American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream,” he said.
Trump didn’t offer any more specifics in the address, but his proposal for “footprints on distant worlds” would be quite a feat. Currently, the United States doesn’t have a way to send astronauts into space, and instead buys seats on other nations’ rockets. NASA, along with companies like SpaceX, are working hard on the next generation of manned American spacecraft, but it sounds like Trump wants to do more than just get into space, at least according to this line.
There are already rumors that NASA is feeling pressure to turn what was originally an uncrewed moon mission in 2019 into a manned mission. A return to the moon during Trump’s tenure in the White House would certainly be a nice feather in his cap. We’ll have to wait, for now at least, to see if Trump or NASA offers anything more specific than just the admittedly tantalizing idea of a new set of footprints on some heavenly body.