The issue:

In a call with the International Space Station today, President Trump said that he'd like to get astronauts to Mars "at worst, during [his] second term."

The facts:

Public: The Orion program, the Space Shuttle's successor designed to take humanity out of low-Earth orbit, doesn't have a crewed mission scheduled until 2021, and it's likely to be delayed until at least 2023. NASA won't commit to a firm estimate for a planned Mars mission, saying it hopes it'll launch in the 2030s.

Private: SpaceX's Interplanetary Transport System had been scheduled to launch its first crewed mission in 2024, but that was contingent on a schedule with a first launch to Mars in 2018 — with a spacecraft that isn't scheduled to have its first orbital test until later this year.

Why it matters:

Trump's proposed NASA budget kept Mars funding intact, and political willpower goes a long way in shrinking the notoriously long timescales for spaceflight.

Go deeper

SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

Trump and Biden during the final debate. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.