President Trump quips about sending humans to Mars in his first term

Enlarge / Flanked by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, left, and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, right, President Donald Trump called the International Space Station on Monday. (credit: NASA TV)

Early on Monday morning, NASA's veteran astronaut Peggy Whitson set a US record for cumulative time in space, surpassing Jeff Williams' record of 534 days. To honor her achievement, President Donald Trump called Whitson from the Oval Office, flanked by his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and another NASA astronaut, Kate Rubins.

The conversation was cordial, and President Trump was gracious in congratulating Whitson and asking about her science activities on the space station. After Whitson explained various engineering efforts, including the recycling of urine into water to make for a closed-loop environmental system, Trump replied, "Well that's good, I'm glad to hear that. Better you than me."

During the call, the president also asked about NASA's Journey to Mars and whether any of the astronauts, including Whitson, Rubins, and Jack Fischer, wanted to go to Mars. They all did. "Tell me, for Mars, what do you see a timing for actually sending people to Mars. Is there a schedule, and when do you see that happening?" he then asked.

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