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President Donald Trump on Friday (Sept. 20) hailed the "tremendous" work by the U.S. space program to return astronauts to the moon by 2024. But the ultimate goal is Mars, Trump said.
Mars - Trump - Reporters - White - House
"We're going to Mars," Trump told reporters after a White House meeting with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Mars, Trump added, is a more exciting target than the moon.
"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."
US - President - Donald - Trump - Australia
U.S. President Donald Trump and Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison speak with reporters after a bilateral meeting on Sept. 20, 2019 at the White House in Washington D.C.
U.S. space officials said that the moon will be a staging ground for eventual crewed missions to Mars, Trump said.
NASA - Deadline - Return - Moon - Astronauts
NASA's deadline for a 2024 return to the moon by astronauts was unveiled in March by Vice President Mike Pence. But the moon was already a primary goal for the Trump administration due to Space Policy Directive 1, a directive signed by Trump in December 2017 ordering NASA to send astronauts to the moon and aim for Mars.
In June, however, Trump took to Twitter to criticize NASA's focus on the moon just weeks before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. "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, stressing that Mars should be the goal. NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has since stressed that the moon is a key waystation for future crewed missions to Mars.
NASA - Moon - Push
NASA's 2024 moon landing push is...
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