’This absurd conversation was actually televised at the time, and mentioned in the New York Times coverage of the conversation, which speculated that he had made the suggestion “perhaps jokingly.”
But according to Sims new book, Trump was dead serious.
In the lead up to the interview, Sims says, the situation was tense. Due to the position of the ISS, there was only a 20 minute period in which the interview could be accomplished, so Trump had to be right on time.
Then, according to Sims, Trump went off on a tangent about Mars, and demanded that NASA send a manned mission there before the end of his term.
Then, something happened. Trump “suddenly appeared distracted, distant,” wrote Sims. “I could sense the gears inside of his head starting to turn. I was losing him.” As the clock ticked down, Trump “suddenly turned toward the NASA administrator.” He asked: “What’s our plan for Mars?”
When the NASA administrator explained that it would take until the 2030s to send a manned mission, Trump didn’t accept it.
“Trump bristled,” Sims writes. The president allegedly asked, “But is there any way we could do it by the end of my first term?”
President Deals then tried to negotiate.
Trump did not seem worried about the time. Sims wrote that he leaned in toward Lightfoot and made him an offer. “But what if I gave you all the money you could ever need to do it?” Trump asked. “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?”
Lightfoot told him he was sorry, but he didn’t think it was possible. This left Trump “visibly disappointed,” Sims wrote. “But I tried to refocus him on the task at hand. We were now about 90 seconds from going live.”
As if this could get any more absurd, with only seconds to spare before the absolute deadline to connect with the ISS, Trump stopped to look in a bathroom mirror.
“Space Station, this is your President,” Trump said to his own reflection, according to Sims.…’