Trump directs NASA to send astronauts back to moon and Mars

Steve Phelps
December 12, 2017

President Donald Trump is scheduled to sign his administration's first space policy directive in a White House ceremony December 11, one that will formally direct NASA to send humans back to the moon.

Past presidents, including George HW Bush and George W Bush, have also proposed returning to the Moon and missions to Mars, but budget constraints derailed their plans.

President Trump holds up an astronaut toy alongside former US Senator and Apollo 17 Astronaut Jack Schmitt, right, after a signing ceremony for Space Policy Directive 1, with the aim of returning Americans to the Moon.

"The moon will be a stepping-stone, a training ground, a venue to strengthen our commercial and global partnerships as we refocus America's space program toward human space exploration".

"The directive I am signing today will refocus America's space programme on human exploration and discovery".

Trump to start process of sending Americans back to moon: White House

Constellation was projected to cost $100 billion, and aimed to get boots on the Moon's surface by the late 2020s.

Trump vowed his new directive "will refocus the space program on human exploration and discovery". Since the program ended, the U.S. has been forced to rely on Russian rockets, at the cost of $70 million per seat.

In September, Trump nominated Representative Jim Bridenstine, a Republican from Oklahoma, to be the next NASA administrator. Bridenstine, who if confirmed would be the first elected official to head the agency, is known as an advocate for bringing private companies such as Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, into Nasa's operations. He noted that there are "a lot of people that want to help [NASA]" reach those goals, including global space partners and commercial space partners in the U.S.

"Under a Trump administration, Florida and America will lead the way into the stars", he said. It is known that Pence too, in the past, has expressed interest in human lunar missions and had also spoken about how the moon was the foundation to build and strengthen global partnerships. The agency retired its space shuttles in 2011, and American astronauts rely on Russian capsules to ferry them to and from the International Space Station.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic Ltd., also applauded Trump's action in an emailed press release. According to NPR, this week marks 45 years since he walked on the moon, and since then, no humans have flown past low-Earth orbit.

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