Press Release

Remarks by President Trump Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

By SpaceRef Editor
July 20, 2019
Filed under ,

Oval Office

12:14 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much.  Tomorrow is a very big day because tomorrow will represent 50 years from the time we planted a beautiful American flag on the moon.  And that was an achievement — possibly, one of the great — considered one of the great achievements ever.  And we’re going a lot further now.  We’re going to the moon but we’re then going to Mars.

And I think, very importantly — and all of you folks know that, from a standpoint of defense, so important, where we’re going to be doing the Space Force.  I assume you guys are all a fan of the Space Force, right?  I’d be very surprised if you weren’t.  But that’s where it’s at.

We’re going to be doing the Space Force.  We’re very close to getting that completed and operating.  It’s going to be very exciting.  So a lot of things are happening.

We have with us, of course, Buzz Aldrin, who has been an incredible gentleman.  I’ve known him for years, for a long time.  And we’ve been friends for a long time.  But just a fantastic, fantastic man.  And Michael Collins, you all know flew Apollo 11 overhead.  And it’s Aldrin and Armstrong, they walked on the moon.  We have —

MR. COLLINS:  Their Den Mother.


MR. COLLINS:  Their Den Mother.

THE PRESIDENT:  Their Den Mother.  Yeah, that’s right.  (Laughter.)  That’s — and that’s for sure.

And you have Rick Armstrong; his son Mark.  It’s just incredible families.  These are incredible space families.  These are incredible men.  And, honestly, I’ve gotten to know some of the women in the family.  These are great women, great men.  And, frankly, great genes.

But tomorrow is a big day.  So tomorrow is a day where 50 years.  And we also have Jim Bridenstine, and Jim is the head of NASA, as you know.  And NASA has done a whole different — it’s a whole different thing.  Jim Bridenstine is somebody that — everybody wanted that job because there’s a love for space that is unparalleled.  Mike Pence and myself felt strongly about Jim.  We gave him the job, and he’s surpassed many of our expectations.  NASA is back.

We’re having rich guys use it and pay us rent.  I like that.  I almost like that better, Jim, if you want to know the truth.  We don’t have to put up so much money.  But you’ve been watching a lot of rich guys sending up rockets, and that goes to our credit and it goes to their credit also.  But we like it.

And we opened up our fields.  When we took it over, they were all covered with grass, and they were broken and they were in bad shape.  And NASA — if you look at Kennedy, if you look down in Florida, you look — wherever you want to look, it was not a pretty picture.  They were almost, you could say, abandoned, and now they’re in tip-top shape.

And rockets are going up all the time.  And we would actually lease rockets from Russia and other countries — but from Russia — to send people up.  And we appreciate the whole relationship with Russia, but we’ll be doing it ourselves.  We’re in a position that we haven’t been in for many, many years.

And space, to me, is important for defense — and offense, I guess you could say.  But space, to me, is very important for defense.  It’s not just about going to the moon and going to Mars, because we don’t know what we’re going to find on Mars, but it’s certainly a trip that’s going to be very interesting.  To get to Mars, you have to land on the moon, they say.  Any way of going directly without landing on the moon?  Is that a possibility?


ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  Well, we need to use the moon as a proving ground, because when we go to Mars, we’re going to have to be there for a long period of time, so we need to learn how to live and work on another world.

THE PRESIDENT:  So how long a trip to Mars?  How long will it take?

ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  It’s about a seven-month journey there.  The challenge is Earth and Mars are only on the same side of the sun once every 26 months.  So we have to be prepared to stay on Mars for long periods of time.  We prove that out on the moon, and then we go on to Mars.

THE PRESIDENT:  What happens if you miss the timing?  They’re in deep trouble?

ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  (Laughs.)  Well, we’re not going to miss the timing.

THE PRESIDENT:  You don’t want to be on that ship.


THE PRESIDENT:  You don’t want to be on the ship.

Go ahead, tell me.  What do you think?

MR. ALDRIN:  You come back and try it again.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I guess, where you — well, that’s a long time.  That’s a long time.  How do you feel about?

MR. COLLINS:  Mars direct.

THE PRESIDENT:  You like direct?


THE PRESIDENT:  It seems, to me, Mars direct.  I mean —

MR. ALDRIN:  They’re impatient.

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, who knows better than these people, right?  (Laughter.)  They’ve been doing this stuff for a long time.

What about the concept of Mars direct?

ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  So the challenge is, if we go direct to Mars, there’s going to be a lot of things that we haven’t yet proven out.  We need to — think about this: We need to use the resources of another world in order to live and work for long periods of time.

The moon has hundreds of millions of tons of water ice that we discovered back in 2009.  Water ice represents life support.  It’s air to breathe, it’s water to drink.  It’s also rocket fuel — hydrogen and oxygen — the same rocket fuel that powered the space shuttle.

So, it’s available.  And hundreds of millions of — there’s — Mr. President, that’s a market.  That’s an available market where people — some of these commercial guys are interested in going to the moon to utilize that resource for their own stays on the moon.  It could be for tourism.  It could be for resources.  Potentially even —

THE PRESIDENT:  But, Jim, isn’t true they haven’t really landed that close to that portion of the moon that you’re talking about?

ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  That’s correct.  In the Apollo era, we landed in the equatorial regions.  So from 1969, the first landing, up until 2008 and 2009, many people believe the moon was bone dry.  Now we know that there’s hundreds of millions of tons of water ice.  We need to learn how to use it so we can live and work, and then ultimately that gives us the opportunity to go to Mars.

THE PRESIDENT:  So you feel that really landing on the moon first, and figuring it out and getting ready to launch, and you would like to — you really feel launching — you’re essentially launching from the moon to Mars.

ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  I think, sir, the best way to think about it is we learn how to live and work on the moon, but we launch to Mars from a space station that we have in orbit around the moon — a space station we call Gateway — which gives us access to the moon.  But ultimately, it becomes the deep-space transport that takes us to Mars.


ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  — which gives us access to the moon.  But ultimately, it becomes the deep-space transport that takes us to Mars.  With a Gateway, we will have more access to more parts of the solar system with humans than we could ever have otherwise.  Because from the moon, it’s very easy, because the moon’s gravity well is small compared to Earth.  So what we aggregate at the Gateway enables us to go further.

THE PRESIDENT:  Just so you know, Jim Bridenstine, who was a great congressman, who was with me most of the time — (laughter) — not all the time.  It was not that easy a decision for me, but that’s okay.  You know that.  You know what I’m talking about.

And ultimately, once I got to know him and once he got to know me, it was a whole different ballgame.  And you’ve done a fantastic job.  You really have.

ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  Sir, I really appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT:  And you love it.


THE PRESIDENT:  And, more importantly, he loves it — the reason he’s doing well.

Where’s Mike?  Mike Pence.  Where is Mike?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Right behind you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Mike, come here.


THE PRESIDENT:  Tell me what you think of the job Jim is doing, what NASA is doing.  Tell me.  Come on over here.  What do you think of the job they’re doing?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Mr. President.  And I share your enthusiasm for our NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine.  He’s done a phenomenal job really putting into practice your vision for reviving American leadership in human space exploration.

But to be able to be here in the Oval Office with you and the First Lady, with Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins, and the family of Neil Armstrong as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is — it is very humbling for me.  I thank you for your leadership.  You revived the National Space Council; you asked us to lead it.

You know, we have really revived American leadership in space.  We’re launching a Space Force to make sure that we can defend this nation in the outer reaches of space.

But because of your leadership, I know everyone gathered here — these families, these astronauts — are excited to know that within the next year, we will be able to return American astronauts to space on American rockets, from American soil.  And that’s all a result of your leadership.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank you, Mr. President.  And I thank you so much for all you’re doing.

THE PRESIDENT:  And maybe you could just — where — just, hold up your hands a little for the media to see, the family of Neil Armstrong.  Where — where is — where is our family here?


THE PRESIDENT:  Come on.  Hold up your hands, because we want to just, sort of, segment it —

MR. RICK ARMSTRONG:  Over there.

THE PRESIDENT:  They’re all sort of one family.  What I want you to do — good.  Buzz?  You’re here.

MR. ALDRIN:  I’m here.

THE PRESIDENT:  Just introduce your family, please.  That’s your family.

MR. ALDRIN:  That’s my lovely vice president.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  (Laughter.)

MR. ALDRIN:  Chief of staff.  My family is from Hawaii, to Florida, to Los Angeles.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Well, but they’re watching.

MR. ALDRIN:  Oh, yeah, always watching.

THE PRESIDENT:  So, do you have any questions, folks?  One thing I think before we go, I do want to ask one question of either Mike or Jim.  Private guys, wealthy guys, are spending a lot of money with you right now.  A lot.  I assume they are using the facilities, they’re leasing the facilities, they’re paying money to set off their rockets.  You can charge them a lot.  They have so much, they don’t know what to do with it.  And they like rockets.  Thank God I don’t like rockets that much.  (Laughter.)  I like it — I like it the way we’re doing it.


THE PRESIDENT:  But I also like it the way they’re doing it.

How much of the work that you’re doing is privately financed?  And — because I see whether it’s Bezos or — I could name many.  Okay?


THE PRESIDENT:  You have many involved.  How much of the work that you’re doing is private versus government-funded and researched?

ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  So, right now, on the International Space Station, we are commercially re-supplying the International Space Station by buying a service from these commercial providers who have invested their own money because they’re looking for markets, they’re looking for business that is not necessarily us, which means our costs go down and our access goes up.  But that’s resupply to the International Space Station.

Now we’re doing commercial crew to the International Space Station.  And the value is this — and sir, this is — this a public-private partnership, where we’re going to have the opportunity in the future to have NASA be one customer of many customers in a very robust marketplace in low Earth orbit where the costs come down, access goes up.

But we also want to make sure — and this is important — we have numerous providers that are competing against each other on cost and innovation.  And as they compete, our costs will continue to go down; access will go up.  The goal being we want more access to space than ever before.  And that’s ultimately how we’re going to go to the moon, that’s how we’re going to get to Mars.  And there are markets out there that are not NASA, and that’s a good thing for our country.

THE PRESIDENT:  And what impact are you having on defense?  Our defense industry.

ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  So NASA has a lot of technologies that we develop that the Department of Defense, in fact, takes advantage of.  And that goes back to — people remember Alan Shepard launching into space.  Well, he launched on an ICBM.

So there’s a lot of back and forth between what NASA does for science and technology and what the Department of Defense does for the national security interests of the country.  But you know this, and I’ve been very public about it.

The United States Air Force is an amazing institution.  The challenges, their budgets, are pretty steady, and yet the greatest threats that the Air Force deals with are in space and cyberspace.  And these are areas where the Air Force is going to run out of capacity, in my view, from a national security perspective.

So we need to take that element and create a separate Space Force where we can organize, train, and equip a cadre of professionals that can keep us safe, from a space perspective.  And by doing that, we will have more opportunity to explore space than we otherwise would.

THE PRESIDENT:  Great.  Fantastic job.


THE PRESIDENT:  So, Michael Collins flew Apollo 11.  What’s the difference with — it was a long time ago — with that, and let’s say, what they’re doing today?  Because you’re abreast of what they’re doing today, Michael.

MR. COLLINS:  Well, I think the whole system has advanced a lot more.  You were talking a minute ago about private funds, and I think that’s wonderful.  The more the merrier.  The money that Musk and Bezos are put — take out of their own pocket, they put into the federal kitty, is for all one lump, as far as I’m concerned.  Maybe the budgeteers don’t quite agree with that, but I think it’s just the more the merrier.  Private funds, appropriated funds, we need them both.  And let’s go with both of them.

THE PRESIDENT:  So you like that whole concept?


THE PRESIDENT:  Do you see a big advancement from so many years ago with Apollo 11?  Do you see a tremendous advancement when you see what’s happened?  Like Elon Musk, I see where his propulsion system has come back to Earth.  I had never seen that before.  They come back standing up and that means you use them again, I guess.  But that was unthinkable a long time ago.

MR. COLLINS:  Yes, sir.  There was one shot, and they fell into the ocean.  A tremendous waste of five good rocket motors for every Saturn V that you send up.  I think that is the dramatic new idea, the —

THE PRESIDENT:  A dramatic (inaudible).

MR. COLLINS:  The reusability.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  Dramatic.

MR. COLLINS:  I mean, how many things in our life do we use once and then throw away?


MR. COLLINS:  Too many.  Maybe that reusability doctrine could be a little more widespread in the rest of our economy.

THE PRESIDENT:  Very good point.  That’s a very good point.

Yes, Mike, go ahead.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And, Mr. President, just to reinforce your point — where the President signed the Space Policy Directive 1, saying that America was going to return to the moon and then to Mars, as one of our first acts in this administration.

But the President has also taken action to streamline regulations for private space exploration.  I mean, what the President’s vision is, is that we will continue to have American leadership in space.  Some of that will come from NASA, some of that will come as a part of our national defense.  But much of it will come by unleashing the entrepreneurial energy of American space entrepreneurs.  And all of it represents, what I know all of these families are excited about, is renewed American leadership in human space exploration.  And it all comes to articulating and putting into practice your vision, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Mike.

And, Buzz, maybe say a few words.  You’ve been watching the space program very closely.  You’ve been watching what we’re doing.  And what a career you’ve had.  One of the great careers.  What would you say?

MR. ALDRIN:  Frankly, I’ve been a little disappointed in the last 10 to 15 years.  We were able to achieve so much early.


MR. ALDRIN:  Maybe we — because of conflicts in Southeast Asia we had to terminate the Apollo program —


MR. ALDRIN:  — and moved on in other directions.


MR. ALDRIN:  But, in the last 50 years, we had a rocket, the Saturn V —


MR. ALDRIN:  — and it took a command module — that was my spacecraft — and the lunar module was Neil’s and Mike’s.  But we all went together.


MR. ALDRIN:  Then we got into the lander, and we landed.  And we joined up.  That was my expertise: rendezvous.  And then we came back.

Now, we have the number-one rocket right now in the U.S. and we have the number-one spacecraft, and they cannot get into lunar orbit with significant maneuvering capability.


MR. ALDRIN:  And that’s a great disappointment to me.

THE PRESIDENT:  How do you feel about that, Jim?

ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  We’re working on it, as a matter of fact.  So, the Orion crew capsule is an amazing crew capsule and we need it to go to the moon within five years, which, of course, is the direction that we’re on right now.

But when we’re there, I think the Gateway, it’s going to attach to a small module in orbit around the moon called the Gateway.  Think of it as a small space station.


ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE:  And that’s going to give us what we call, “Delta-v.”  That’s that maneuvering capability to go down to low lunar orbit and then back up on a lander.  And so those are — those are the pieces of the architecture that we’re working out.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’d like to have you also listen to the other side because some people would like to do it a different way.


THE PRESIDENT:  All right?  So, you’ll listen to Buzz and —


THE PRESIDENT:  — some of the other people, because they also feel —


THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, I know this has been going on for a little while.  And we’re so advanced, but I would like to hear the other side also.  Right?


THE PRESIDENT:  Okay?  I’d like to — maybe say something on behalf of your family.  Please.  Great family.

MR. RICK ARMSTRONG:  Yes, sir.  I think the other real benefit of space, that is something that we haven’t talked about now, is the inspiration that it provides for all the kids out there — not just in the U.S., but all around the world — to focus on achieving their dreams, studying science and math and engineering.

And I’ve met — I’ve heard from so many people that have come to me and said, “I was inspired to be what I am because of what I saw in the Apollo program.”  And that — the value of that is tremendous.  And I think we need more of that.

So I’m really hoping that, you know, days like today will help do that.  And with the increased activity in space that we’re all talking about here, will all help that.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you have a great family.  Thank you very much.

MR. RICK ARMSTRONG:  Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, you know, one of the things: We’re bringing the glamour back to it because it lost the glamour.  It lost everything.  If you would have seen these fields when we took over — really, you started about a year, year and a half ago.  When we took over, it was unbelievable.  It looked like an abandoned town.  And now there’s beauty.  There’s beauty, and there’s a lot of things happening.  A lot of really great things are happening.  So we’re very proud of that.

Thank you all very much.  We appreciate it.  Thank you.

Q    A couple of questions.  Iran — Iran is —

THE PRESIDENT:  Steve, go ahead.

Q    Iran is denying that you shot down a drone yesterday.  There’s no doubt about that, right?  And are —

THE PRESIDENT:  No doubt about it, no.  We shot it down and — of course, I’m sitting here behind the desk in the Oval Office.  But, John, tell me please.  John Bolton, you’re there.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON:  Yeah, there’s no question that this was an Iranian drone, and the USS Boxer took it out, as the President announced yesterday, because it posed a threat to the ship and its crew.  It was entirely the right thing to do.

Q    And are you concerned about a broader clash with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, not at all.  We have the greatest people in the world.  We have the great equipment in the world.  We have the greatest ships — most deadly ships.  We don’t want to have to use them, but they’re the most deadly ships ever conceived.

And we are not — we hope, for their sake, they don’t do anything foolish.  If they do, they will pay a price like nobody has ever paid a price.  Okay?  Thank you.

Q    President Trump, you said you were unhappy with the chant.  However, the chant was just repeating what you said —

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  You know what I’m unhappy with?

Q    — what you said in your tweet.

THE PRESIDENT:  Do you know what I’m un- —

Q    Do you take that tweet back?

THE PRESIDENT:  Do you know what I’m unhappy with?  I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country.  I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things.  I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman — in this case, a different congresswoman — can call our country and our people “garbage.”  That’s what I’m unhappy with.

Q    So you’re not unhappy about the chant?

THE PRESIDENT:  Those people in North Carolina — that stadium was packed.  It was a record crowd.  And I could’ve filled it 10 times, as you know.

Those are incredible people.  Those are incredible patriots.  But I’m unhappy when a congresswoman goes and said, “I’m going to be the President’s nightmare.”  “She’s going to be the President’s nightmare.”  She’s lucky to be where she is, let me tell you.  And the things that she has said are a disgrace to our country.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Q    Is there an update on this A$AP Rocky case?

THE PRESIDENT:  A$AP Rocky is a situation in Sweden.   Sweden is a great country.  And they’re friends of mine — the leadership.  And we are going to be calling.  We’ll be talking to him.  We’ve already started.

And many, many members of the African American community have called me — friends of mine — and said, “Could you help?”

So, I personally don’t know A$AP Rocky, but I can tell you that he has tremendous support from the African American community in this country.  And when I say “African American,” I think I can really say “from everybody in this country” because we’re all one.

I have been called by so many people asking me to help A$AP Rocky.  Actually, the one who knew about A$AP Rocky was our First Lady.  Right?  She was telling me about — “Can you help A$AP Rocky?”

Do you want to give a little statement on that?  (Laughter.)  If you’ll —

THE FIRST LADY:  Well, we’re working with State Department and we hope to get him home soon.

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to see.  So we’ve had a very good relationship with Sweden.  He’s being held, as you know, in Sweden.  And we’ve had a very good relationship in Sweden.

So, that’s pretty much it.  Thank you all very much.
Thank you.

Q    The debt ceiling?  An update —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, hopefully we’re in good shape on the
debt ceiling.  The debt — I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wager.

When I first came into office, I asked about the debt ceiling.  And I understand debt ceilings, and I certainly understand a — the highest-rated credit ever in history in a debt ceiling.
And I said — I remember — to Senator Schumer and to Nancy Pelosi, “Would anybody ever use that to negotiate with?”  They said, “Absolutely not.”  That’s a sacred element of our country.  They can’t use the debt ceiling to negotiate.
And don’t forget: President Obama, during his eight years, he created — he doubled the debt.  You take every President — every President prior to President Obama — he then took it and doubled the debt over $10 trillion.  Ten trillion, with a “T”, not a “B.”  Not a million, not a billion.  President Obama put $10 trillion — it doubled the debt.  It was at 10, it went to 20, went to even above 20.  And some of it is attributed to him, even that I assumed.

So when they start talking about using the debt ceiling as a wedge to negotiate for things that they want, they have told me very strongly they would never use that.  That’s — that’s a very, very sacred thing in our country — debt ceiling.  We can never play with it.  So I would have to assume we’re in great shape.

But just remember also, the previous administration doubled the debt in our country.  You take all of the Presidents that came before — doubled the debt from there.  It’s a pretty big statement.  And certainly, it’s a big statement to be talking about — for that party to be talking about using the debt ceiling.  And I don’t think they are.  It’s been mentioned, but I don’t think they are.  I don’t think anybody would want to play that card.

Steve, go ahead.

Q    Boris Johnson, it looks like he’s going to be the next —


Q    — British Prime Minster.  What do you think about him?  How — will you be able to work with him?

THE PRESIDENT:  I like him.  I like Boris Johnson.  Boris — I spoke to him yesterday.

Q    What about?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think he’s going to do a great job.  I think we’re going to have a great relationship.  I think they’ve done a very poor job with Brexit.  I think the previous Prime Minister has done a very bad job with Brexit.  What can I say?  I mean, it’s a disaster.  And it shouldn’t be that way.  I think Boris will straighten it out.

I like Boris Johnson.  I always have.  He’s a different kind of a guy.  But they say I’m a different kind of a guy, too.  We get along well.  I think we’ll have a very good relationship.  Thank you.

Q    Thank you, sir.

Q    President Trump, on Japan and Korea — since you just returned from there — there’s ongoing tension between them.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  There is ongoing tension between Japan and Korea.  In fact, the President of Korea asked me if I could get involved.  I said, “How many things do I have to get involved in?”  I’m involved with North Korea — on helping.  You know, I’m involved in so many different things.  We just did a trade deal — a great trade deal — with South Korea.  But he tells me that they have a lot of friction going on now with respect to trade — primarily with respect to trade.

And Japan has some things that South Korea wants, and he asked me to get involved.  So maybe if they would both want me to, I’ll be.  It’s like I’m — it’s like a full-time job getting involved between Japan and South Korea.

But I like both leaders.  I like President Moon.  And you know how I feel about Prime Minister Abe.  He’s a very special guy, also.

So if they need me, I’m there.  Hopefully they can work it out.  But they do have tension, there’s no question about it.  Trade tension.

Okay?  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.


12:40 P.M. EDT

SpaceRef staff editor.