Keeping his eyes on “the final frontier,” President Donald Trump has promised that America will be “going to Mars very soon.”

According to Fox News, President Trump made his pledge to put humans on the red planet when announcing a “new cooperation between the U.S. and Japan” during a joint press conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

“I am pleased to confirm that Prime Minister Abe and I have agreed to dramatically expand our nations’ cooperation in human space exploration,” Trump said. “We’ll be going to the moon. We’ll be going to Mars very soon. It’s very exciting. And from a military standpoint, there is nothing more important right now than space.”

Indeed, President Trump has given NASA the room to achieve this lofty goal of putting Americans on Mars. In March of this year, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine praised the Trump administration’s 2020 budget — which he said enables the agency to explore beyond the Moon.

“For the first time in over 10 years, we have money in this budget for a return to the moon with humans,” Bridenstine said at the time, according to Fox News. “I’m talking human-rated landers, compatible with Gateway, that can go back and forth to the surface of the moon.”

Bridenstine added, “The president has given us Space Policy Directive 1, which says to go back to the moon, and we’re going to do that in short order — maybe even in 2019, but at least by 2020 — with commercial lunar payload services that are going to be funded through the Science Mission Directorate, and all of this is going to be possible because we’re looking at going fast.”

Achieving dominance in the stars above became an ambition of the Trump administration when he announced the creation of a new division within the U.S. Air Force, aptly named Space Force, which prompted scores of mockery and derision from critics. Most recently, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) defended the existence of Space Force as a necessary defense against space pirates.

“Since the ancient Greeks first put to sea, nations have recognized the necessity of naval forces and maintaining a superior capability to protect waterborne travel and commerce from bad actors,” Cruz said during a hearing earlier this month. “Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space. In this same way, I believe we too must now recognize the necessity of a Space Force to defend the nation and to protect space commerce and civil space exploration.

Vice President Mike Pence said in August of last year that Space Force “will be a reality,” promising that it will have the “best minds in and around space leadership” behind its creation.

“As we speak, the National Space Council, bringing together all different agencies of government that bear on this program, and bringing together the best minds in and around American space leadership, we’re forming a cohesive and comprehensive strategy for America’s space activities,” said Pence. “We’re rolling back stifling red tape so we can tap the bottomless well of American innovation. We’re also renewing our national commitment to discovery and to exploration, and to write the next great chapter of our nation’s journey into space.”

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