US President Donald Trump has said the US should be the first national to plant its flag on Mars.

“In reaffirming our heritage as a free nation, we must remember that America has always been a frontier nation.  Now we must embrace the next frontier, America’s manifest destiny in the stars.  I am asking Congress to fully fund the Artemis program to ensure that the next man and the first woman on the Moon will be American astronauts using this as a launching pad to ensure that America is the first nation to plant its flag on Mars,” he said in his State of the Union address.

NASA earlier announced the new US moon exploration program was called Artemis. It will consist of three stages: the first (Artemis 1), which provides for an unmanned flight of the Orion spacecraft mounted on a SLS (Space Launch System) rocket around the Moon and its return to Earth, is scheduled for the second half of 2020. The second stage (Artemis 2) - the flyby of the Earth’s natural satellite with a crew on board - is scheduled for 2022. At the third stage of the mission (Artemis 3), NASA expects to carry out the landing of astronauts on the moon in 2024 and send them to Mars approximately in the mid-2030s.