Peggy Whitson broke the record Monday for longest stay by a U.S. astronaut in space: 534 days. In honor of this achievement, President Donald Trump, with his daughter Ivanka and astronaut Kate Rubins present, called up Whitson from the Oval Office to congratulate her. “This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight,” Trump said.
He also appeared eager to discuss a mission to Mars — and seemed to forget that he had already established a target date for the voyage. “Tell me, Mars, what do you see a timing for actually sending humans?” he asked Whitson.
In March, Trump signed a bill authorizing more than $19 billion in funding for NASA. It set a timeline for a manned mission to Mars by 2033.
Whitson reminded him of it. “Well, I think as your bill directed, it’ll be approximately in the 2030s,” she said.
“Well, we want to try and do it during my first term,” Trump replied. “Or at worst, during my second term, so we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, okay?”
Trump also learned how astronauts get water in space. Whitson, telling Trump that it’s such a “precious resource” said that they were “cleaning up our urine and making it drinkable. And it’s really not as bad as it sounds.”
“Well, that’s good,” Trump replied. “I’m glad to hear that. Better you than me.”