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Trump Marks Mars as NASA’s Target, Sets Australia Collaboration

Sept. 23, 2019 (EIRNS)—U.S. President Donald Trump Sept. 20 praised the U.S. space program’s efforts to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024 as “tremendous,” but stated that the ultimate goal is Mars. “We’re going to Mars,” Trump told reporters at the White House before his meeting with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as posted to the White House website.

Trump responded to a reporter who asked for details on the “exciting new space program to the Moon”: “We’re going to Mars. We’re stopping at the Moon. The Moon is actually a launching pad. That’s why we’re stopping at the Moon. I said, ‘Hey, we’ve done the Moon. That’s not so exciting.’ They said, ‘No, sir. It’s a launching pad for Mars.’ So we’ll be doing the Moon.  But we’ll really be doing Mars. And we’ll be—we’re making tremendous progress.”

Trump also praised the work of commercial companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. “In addition, rich people like to send up rocket ships. So between Bezos and Elon Musk and others, we’re leasing them our launch facilities, which you can’t get. In Texas and Florida, we’re leasing them our facilities so they can send up whatever they want to send up. It’s okay with us. And they’ve actually done very well. They’ve said they’ve had great success.”

Also on Sept. 21 Australian Space Agency head Megan Clark and NASA’s Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard signed a joint statement of intent for space cooperation. “We are honored by today’s statement and the commitment of our friends from Australia to support us in our mission to return to the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis program,” Morhard said in a NASA statement. “The strong relationship between NASA and the Australian Space Agency affirms NASA’s commitment to establishing sustainable exploration with our commercial and international partners by 2028.”

Prime Minister Morrison in a toast at the state dinner given him by Trump, recalled the long space collaboration: “Australia will never be accused of indifference in our friendship to the United States.... This has been importantly included in our work together to expand the frontiers of science, technologies, and exploration to reach into space as we first did together 50 years ago, when you launched and we kept Apollo 11 in contact, through the Honeysuckle Project, with Earth.  And we beamed those most famous of images of all time to an enthralled and inspired humanity. Events that no doubt inspired a young Andy Thomas, from Adelaide, who is with us here tonight, to launch into space on the Endeavor almost 30 years later.”

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