Donald Trump signed a brand new executive order on Friday to revive the grandiose-sounding National Space Council (NSC). The point is to signal to the country that space exploration is once again a priority, perhaps at the expense of all those climate programs that the President is so keen to defund.
“It is America’s destiny to be at the forefront of humanity’s eternal quest for knowledge and to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown,” Trump said before signing the order. “And I could say the great and very beautiful unknown. Nothing more beautiful.”
Buzz Aldrin was in attendance at the White House as the order was signed, and apart from pulling a few amusing facial expressions as the President gave his speech, he also took the opportunity to tell a joke.
As Trump sat down to sign the order, he says “We know what this is, space. That’s all it has to say, space.” We’re not sure what that means, but do let us know if you’ve got any suggestions, dear readers.
At this point, Trump leans towards Aldrin and says “There’s a lot of room out there, right?” Aldrin then responds “Infinity and beyond.” Recognizing that this quip was clearly referencing the Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear’s famous catchphrase, the gathered audience laughed.
Trump did not. “This is infinity here,” he replies. “It could be infinity. We really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something, but it could be infinity, right?”
The National Space Council is reborn. The joke occurs just after the 10-minute mark. The White House via YouTube
Aldrin nods with a slight shrug and a slight smile, and lets the President continue to sign his executive order. The joke obviously went flying over the Commander-in-Chief’s head, but it’s probably a little mean to point that out in front of all those people and cameras.
This exchange also makes you wonder if the President has either simply not understood the reference for whatever reason, or that he hasn’t actually seen Toy Story, which is a crime all by itself. Who hasn’t seen that genre-defining classic?
Either way, it’s unclear what Aldrin thinks about the reborn NSC itself. As we’ve previously reported on, it’ll be headed by Mike Pence – a creationist who has no experience with space or science of any kind – and it won’t really have a purpose.
It was founded in 1958 under Eisenhower, and was designed to set US policy on space, including exploration and defense. In practice, it suffered from poor management and lack of authority, and was shut down in 1993. It’s now been reactivated again, and it’s likely that it’ll be a symbolic gesture more than a practical one.