Last summer, Donald Trump hosted a White House event in recognition of an executive order on the National Space Council. It wouldn't have been especially notable, were it not for the president sharing some unscripted thoughts on the topic of the day.
"This is infinity here," Trump said. "It could be infinity. We don't really don't know. But it could be. It has to be something -- but it could be infinity, right?"
I still have no idea what he was even trying to say.
Regardless, between this and his comments yesterday, I'm starting to think the president should avoid this issue altogether. Politico reported:
President Donald Trump predicted on Tuesday that the U.S. would reach Mars "very soon" and backed the idea of creating a militaristic "space force," seemingly expressing support for a measure that faced opposition from officials in his own administration.Touting recent technological advancements, Trump forecast that "very soon we're going to Mars" -- a feat that he said wouldn't have been possible had Hillary Clinton prevailed in the 2016 election.
Let's unpack this one, because it's kind of amazing.
First, I suppose "very soon" is a relative term, but a manned mission to Mars is decades away.
Second, Trump still seems to be running the 2016 race in his mind. "You wouldn't have been going to Mars if my opponent won, that I can tell you," he said yesterday. "You wouldn't even be thinking about it." To the extent that reality matters, Hillary Clinton described herself as "an enthusiastic supporter of human space flight," committed her administration to investing in the endeavor, including a Mars mission.
And then there was the whole "space force" thing. "My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a warfighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea," the president said yesterday. "We may even have a space force -- develop another one, space force. We have the Air Force, we'll have the space force."
Describing a conversation with his team, Trump added, "Then I said, 'What a great idea!' Maybe we'll have to do that.' That could happen." After taking a brief break to describe journalists on hand for the event as "fake news" -- I guess he lost his train of thought -- the president went on to say, "So think of that: Space force, because we are spending a lot and we have a lot of private money coming in, tremendous."
For what it's worth, there's already an Air Force Space Command. But even putting that aside, Politico's piece noted that when some in Congress worked on creating a U.S. Space Corps, it drew opposition -- from the Trump administration.
As for the president's apparent affection for space exploration, let's also not forget that Trump's budget plan makes significant cuts to investments in NASA.