Trump: "I Want To Rebuild Our Infrastructure" Before Sending People to Mars

Trump: "I Want To Rebuild Our Infrastructure" Before Sending People to Mars

Speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said the idea of sending people to Mars is “wonderful,” but “I want to rebuild our infrastructure first.”  His demeanor suggested an even deeper skepticism.

Trump was holding a campaign rally at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, New Hampshire when a young man who identified himself as a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow in a joint MIT-Harvard Medical School program asked about putting humans on Mars.  He noted that Trump complains that the United States needs to have victories again, and in the aerospace industry “one of our biggest victories was putting man on the Moon.”  

Trump agreed with that, but when the NASA Fellow continued with his question — what did Trump think about sending humans to Mars — Trump’s opinion was displayed more by his body language and tone of voice than his words.  Shrugging and grimacing, he replied —

“Honestly, I think it’s wonderful.  I want to rebuild our infrastructure first.  OK?  I think it’s wonderful.”  He then looked into the audience while pointing at the questioner dismissively.

The event was recorded by C-SPAN and the exchange can be seen in its entirety beginning at 47:29. 

Trump is the latest of the presidential candidates to express views about the space program.   

  • Jeb Bush: “I’m a space guy.”  
  • Hillary Clinton: “I really, really do support the space program” and wanted to be an astronaut as a teenager.  
  • Ted Cruz offered his views on the strengths and weaknesses of two fictional Starship captains (Kirk and Picard) during a media interview.  More seriously, he has chaired hearings of his Senate Commerce subcommittee on Space, Science and Innovation where he expressed enthusiasm for commercial space and NASA’s exploration programs, but does not think earth science should be a NASA priority.  A bill he sponsored, S. 1297, the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, recently passed the Senate.  Cruz said the bill carries forward “President Reagan’s torch” by continuing to support commercial space.
  • Marco Rubio was a co-sponsor on S. 1297 and said at the time of its passage “we need to eliminate unnecessary regulations that cost too much and make it harder for American innovators to create jobs.” He added that the bill would “make it easier for our innovators to return Americans to suborbital space” and “help the American space industry continue pushing further into space than ever before.”

On the campaign trail so far, the space program has come up only in media interviews or town hall meetings like Trump’s.   No space questions were asked at the first Republican presidential primary debates on August 6, either at the 5:00 pm ET “happy hour” debate or the 9:00 pm ET main debate.

During the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, candidate Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House, laid out bold goals for the space program, and he and Mitt Romney responded to questions about the space program in one of the televised debates.


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