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Trump tells astronauts to get to Mars ‘at worst, during my second term’

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Donald Trump, accompanied by his daughter Ivanka Trump, talks via video conference Monday with International Space Station Commander Peggy Whitson on the International Space Station from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

WASHINGTON >> “Station, this is your president, do you hear me?”

President Donald Trump spoke live for about 20 minutes Monday morning with a pair of astronauts at the International Space Station, including commander Peggy Whitson, who set a new record for accumulated time in space at more than 534 days.

Trump — asking questions from the Oval Office with his daughter Ivanka by his side, and with astronaut Kate Rubins and top advisers filling out the room — clearly relished the drama of the unusual call. He mentioned several times that it was being streamed live in classrooms across the country, and asked the astronauts about their daily routine and how they successfully did their jobs.

“That’s what we like, great American equipment that works,” Trump responded when Whitson told the president that his voice was being heard at the space station.

Jack Fischer, the second astronaut speaking from the space station, seemed just as impressed with his trip, noting that he had been drinking a “floaty ball-form coffee” the morning before.

“Now, I’m talking to the president of the United States while hanging from a wall,” Fischer said. “It’s amazing.”

He added that even drinking recycled urine to save precious water in space was “really not as bad as it sounds.”

Trump deadpanned: “That’s good. I’m glad to hear that.”

Trump was eager to talk about the potential for further space travel, including a greater role for entrepreneurs and a human trip to Mars. When Whitson said a Mars trip would likely happen in the 2030s, Trump joked that NASA would have to speed up its timeline to complete the mission, “at worst, during my second term.”

Trump congratulated Whitson and repeatedly praised her work. He said he would never travel 17,000 mph “but that’s what you do.”

Whitson said she was proud of the honor but credited the vast crew on Earth for making it possible.

“I’ve been dealing with politicians so much,” Trump said. “I’m so much more impressed with these people.”

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