In a rousing call for the continued exploration of space, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday reactivating the National Space Council after 24 years of inactivity.
With four former astronauts in attendance at the White House, including the second man to walk on the moon, Apollo 11 pilot Buzz Aldrin, the president called for an American to “travel way out past the moon and Uranus…and even Tatooine” before the end of his first term.
Tatooine is a fictional planet featured in the Star Wars movie franchise depicted as having a desert climate with two suns. It is also the homeworld of the series hero, Luke Skywalker. It is not clear if Mr. Trump was joking about the imaginary world, or believed it was possible to travel to Tatooine.
Expressing the dreams of generations of space explorers in words only he could utter, Mr. Trump did say, however, “This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something — but it could be infinity, right?”
At one point, the president seemed to give enthusiastic credit to space simply for being out there by saying: “At some point in the future, we’re going to look back and say, ‘How did we do it without space?’”
The unusual choice of words seemed to baffle Mr. Aldrin who looked at the president with a pained expression, as if thinking, “And they call me the space cadet?” Mr. Aldrin is a documented believer in UFO’s and aliens, which has at times made him the subject of ridicule and put him at odds with more conventional thinkers in the NASA space program.
During his remarks, the president also turned to Mr. Aldrin and, referring to the cosmos, asked, “There’s a lot of room out there, right?” To which Buzz Aldrin responded using animated hero Buzz Lightyear’s catchphrase from “Toy Story,” saying to amused laughter from the gathering, “To infinity, and beyond.”
Mr. Trump apparently did not understand the film reference and went on to ask Mr. Aldrin, who is 87-years-old, whether he was ready to “command a spaceship to places where man has never gone before.”
Mr. Aldrin demurred, asking the president to consider younger, more qualified astronauts who would be less likely to die of a heart attack or from the crushing pressure of massive G-forces during the initial takeoff.
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