Trump: We're trying to top JFK by looking at Mars mission

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE said Thursday that he wanted to "top" President John F. Kennedy's ambitions to send a man to the moon by pursuing a trip to Mars.

"We're looking at Mars, by the way," Trump said. "Trying to top [Kennedy]. We're going to get there. It's moving along pretty good. A lot of things have happened ... having to do with that subject. Way ahead of schedule."

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Kennedy, who served in the Oval Office from 1961 until his assassination in 1963, set the United States' sights on reaching the moon during the so-called space race with the Soviet Union. 

The U.S. eventually reached that goal in 1967. The last U.S. moon landing was in 1972.

Trump has made a return to the moon and an eventual trip to Mars a primary goal of his administration's space policy. He signed a directive in December outlining the ambitions. 

Speaking to members of the military in California on Wednesday, Trump vowed that the U.S. would make it to Mars "very soon."

"Very soon we're going to Mars," he said. "You wouldn't be going to Mars if my opponent won, that I can tell you. You wouldn't even be thinking about it."

Vice President Pence has been tapped as the point person on Trump's space exploration ambitions. Last year, Pence announced the relaunch of the National Space Council, which works to centralize various federal agencies with oversight into space policy.