According to a new book by former Trump communications staffer Cliff Sims, President Trump tried to offer acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot Jr seemingly infinite funding in exchange for trying to reach Mars before the end of Trump’s first term in January 2021.

“What if I gave you all the money you could ever need to do it?” Trump reportedly asked Lightfoot when the administrator expressed hesitation about the idea. “What if we sent NASA’s budget through the roof, but focused entirely on that instead of whatever else you’re doing now. Could it work then?”

The exchange happened moments before the President used a call with astronaut Peggy Whitson, who had just broken the previous record to become the American holding the record for longest time spent in space, to again inquire as to the prospect of sending Americans to Mars.

He reportedly asked Whitson, “Tell me, Mars — what do you see a timing for actually sending humans?” When she told him it would probably be another decade, he responded “Well, I think we want to do it in my first term or at worst in my second term […] So I think we’ll have to speed that up a little bit.”

NASA has announced nothing about a purported trip to Mars, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t begun work. Could Trump be taking Americans to Mars in the near future? And would that be enough to earn Trump a second term?

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