During a White House meeting with Australia’s Prime Minister Friday, September 20, U.S. President Donald Trump praised NASA’s “tremendous” effort in the highly anticipated Artemis mission, which aims to return man to the moon, but says that Mars is the ultimate goal.
As of now, NASA has been working tirelessly to meet deadlines and stay on track to meet the 2024 deadline of the Artemis mission, but Trump argued that Mars is much more exciting target to land humans on.
“We’re going to Mars,” Trump told reporters after a White House meeting with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“We’re stopping at the moon. The moon is actually a launching pad,” Trump said. “That’s why we’re stopping at the moon. I said, ‘Hey, we’ve done the moon. That’s not so exciting.’ So we’ll be doing the moon. But we’ll really be doing Mars.”
Similar to what the President said on Twitter in June: “For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon — We did that 50 years ago,” he wrote, criticizing NASA that Mars should be the goal.
NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has since stressed that the moon is a crucial waystation for future crewed missions to Mars.
One of NASA’s preparations for Artemis is that they’re building a lunar orbiter space station that’s intended to function similar as the ISS but will be located on the moon, which the space agency calls the Gateway. It will serve as a way-station for astronauts trying to make a soft landing on the lunar surface and, potentially, before launching off to deeper space such as Mars.
NASA is also building a mega space rocket launcher called the Space Launch System (SLS), which will carry astronauts off the Earth and push them to the Gateway as well as into deep space where astronauts will be riding inside the space agency’s next-generation space capsule called Orion that is touted to be the country’s most advanced space capsule.
All three components under NASA’s Artemis mission will be developed and constructed through the aid of multiple private entities such as commercial space companies to ensure that the 2024 deadline will be met.
On Friday, Trump said NASA was making “tremendous progress” toward Mars, and also lauded the work of commercial companies like SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, and Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos. Both companies have test sites in Texas and have leased launch facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
“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,” Trump said. “And they’ve actually done very well. They’ve said they’ve had great success.”
To Australia’s Prime Minister Morrison Trump said: “But rich people in this country — I don’t know about your country — but they like building rocket ships and sending them up, and it’s okay with us.”
On Saturday (September 21), the Australian Space Agency officially became the latest addition to the entities assisting NASA in its mission to return man to the moon as Australia hopes to also further its science, technology, and space ventures through its relatively young space agency. It is a little almost a year since its founding in 2018.
“We’re backing Australian businesses to the moon, and even Mars, and back,” Morrison said in a statement.
“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.”