Trump wants to send man back to the moon - and eventually Mars

Trump wants to send man back to the moon - and eventually Mars

Kenneth Drake
December 12, 2017

The better known Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon after Armstrong and a fervent advocate of future space missions, was also present at the ceremony but not mentioned by Trump during his speech.

Trump said, "The directive I am signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery".

Mr Trump revived the National Space Council in July to advise and help implement his space policy with exploration as a national priority.

President Donald Trump directed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to send American astronauts back to the moon and eventually to Mars, shifting the agency's mission from the study of Earth.

It will focus on long-term explorations and use of the Moon's surface, in partnership with the private sector.

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'This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, ' he said. Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as chairman of the NSC, also spoke at the signing.

Apollo 17 was the last Apollo mission to land astronauts on the Moon and returned with the greatest amount of rock and soil samples for investigation. The Space Policy Directive 1 will "more effectively organize government, private industry, and worldwide efforts toward returning humans [to] the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars", agency officials said. But the programme was shut down when Barack Obama became the president as he believed that Americans "have been there before" and that "there's a lot more of space to explore". The resulting NASA programme, Constellation, was to put astronauts on the moon by 2020 but was hobbled by delays and cost overruns, reports The New York Times.

Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator, said he thinks the new directive could provide "a sense of urgency" to NASA's spaceflight pursuits.

"The next generation will dream even bigger and reach higher as we launch challenging new missions, and make new discoveries and technological breakthroughs on this dynamic path", 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 worldwide partnerships. They also said the country isn't the accepted leader in human space exploration any longer, but "should be a leader in space". The U.S. commercial space industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in private capital to develop innovative capabilities for lunar transport, operations, and resource utilization.