President Trump uses our technology(VSee) to congratulate astronauts in space
WASHINGTON — President Trump opened a busy week with an out-of-this-world phone call.
The president spoke with a pair of U.S. astronauts aboard the International Space Station, lauding NASA’s work — though he has called for some cuts in its budget — and praising a crew member who set a record for longest time spent among the stars.
“This is a very special day in the glorious history of American space flight,” Trump said during the conversation, which lasted 19 minutes. “That’s an incredible record to break.”
Peggy Whitson, commander of the space station, passed the record of 534 cumulative days in space, according to NASA. The first woman to command the space station twice, Whitson began her latest stint on Nov. 19, 2016.
As she credited her colleagues for her success, Whitson told the president that “it’s a very exciting time to be at NASA,” citing plans for a Mars mission and promoting “STEM” education programs devoted to science, technology, education, and math.
The call launched a full week of events for the Trump administration heading into Saturday, the president’s 100th day in office. Administration officials are trying to push a health care bill through the House and negotiating with congressional lawmakers on a new spending bill to avert a government shutdown. Trump also plans to unveil a new tax reform plan in the middle of the week, and has major political speeches planned Friday in Atlanta and Saturday in Harrisburg, Pa.
In touting the NASA program, Trump cited the economic and educational benefits of space travel, and at one point mentioned the “tremendous military application in space.” Dabbling in politics, Trump at one point said he would like to see a human mission to Mars “during my first term or, at worst, during my second term.”
The Trump administration has proposed $19.1 billion for NASA in his 2018 budget blueprint, down slightly from the current year’s $19.3 billion allocation. The proposal cuts Earth science and education programs, but would keep funding levels for Mars exploration.
Trump began his call to the astronauts(using VSee) by intoning: “Station? This is your president! Do you hear me?”
When NASA replied in the affirmative, Trump joked: “Well, that’s what we like, great American equipment that works. And this isn’t easy.”
NASA beamed the conversation into schools, museums, and other organizations, hoping to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and math.
Ivanka Trump, first daughter and assistant to the president who joined the president on the call, said STEM education and employment for young girls and women is a major priority of the administration.
Jack Fischer, another astronaut who spoke with Trump, said he has “an incredible, incredible job.” The Air Force colonel talked about how the speed of the space station made “my beloved F-22 (fighter jet) feel a little bit under-powered,” the beauty of seeing “that frail, thin blue line of life around the Earth,” and the joys of bouncing around in zero gravity.
“Now I’m talking to the President of the United States while hanging from a wall,” Fischer said. “It’s amazing.”
The record-setting Whitson told students that if they want to be a part of the space program, they need to start paying attention to science, technology, engineering, and math.
“We are absolutely ready to go to Mars,” she said.
At one point, in discussing the station’s scientific research, Whitson cited a program in which urine is purified into drinking water.
“Well, that’s good,” Trump said. “I’m glad to hear that … Better you than me.”