President Trump gave a brief speech on Saturday commemorating his executive order that resurrects the National Space Council. Trump's words were memorable in their own way, but were this speech memorialized in the history books, surely Buzz Aldrin's reactions to Trump's space talk would stand out the most. Aldrin, an Apollo 11 astronaut and the second man to set foot on the moon in 1969, was in attendance at the ceremony. While would know a thing or two about space — if you watch his eyebrows while Trump's speaking, he appeared to be a bit, say, perplexed by what's going on.
At the ceremony, Trump talked about what the country stands to gain by expanding its operations in space. "Our travels beyond the Earth propel scientific discoveries that improve our lives in countless ways here, right here," he said. "Powering vast new industries, spurring incredible technology, and providing the space security we need to protect the American people." If you're unclear on what "space security" actually means, you're not alone.
"Security's going to be a very big factor with respect to space and space exploration," Trump said, seeming to gaze off into the distance. “At some point in the future, we’re going to look back and say how did we do it without space?” At this point, Buzz Aldrin's eyebrows shot up about as fast as the rocket carrying him did, back in 1969.
The executive order officially revives the National Space Council, after it was first established during the Eisenhower administration and then ceased functioning in 1993. Vice President Pence spoke first, as he will be the one chairing the renewed council, despite the fact that he once supported a proposal to gut NASA's exploration funding.
The executive order on its revival states that Trump wants it to "provide a coordinated process for developing and monitoring the implementation of national space policy and strategy," so it makes sense that the White House would have brought in some space-related heavy hitters for its signing.
Trump has displayed a clear interest in space-related matters, as evidenced by his phone call to the astronauts on the International Space Station and his pledge to send them to Mars by his second term (a mission that experts think could become a reality no sooner than the 2030s).
On Saturday, he noted that space "will not only make us stronger and more prosperous, but will unite us behind grand ambitions and bring us all closer together."
“Wouldn’t that be nice? Can you believe that space is going to do that?” he said.
It could be argued that space travel already did that with the space race during the Cold War. His critics have said, however, has already shown that a great knowledge of either foreign or American history is not something that he can claim. It's also unclear what the administration's space strategy will be, given that it has introduced proposals to significantly cut NASA's budget, and it has still not filled the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy.
For all his travels, it seemed that Aldrin could not quite decipher the president's comments on the matter.