Trump signs directive to send Americans back to the moon

Marsha Scott
December 12, 2017

Trump signed a directive to the NASA administrator outlining the new mission on Monday.

Harrison Schmitt, an astronaut on Apollo 17, stood by the president while he signed Space Policy Directive 1.

Space policy experts agree that any attempt to send people to Mars, which lies an average of 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) from Earth, would require enormous technical prowess and a massive wallet.

The last time U.S. astronauts went to the Moon was during the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s.

Only 12 men have set foot on the Moon - all have been Americans.

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

Trump has taken several steps to refocus NASA's mission on space exploration.

Vice President Mike Pence said the new space policy directive ensures that "America will lead in space once again".

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In approving the new policy, Mr Trump abandoned what had been a goal of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who in 2010 backed a plan to send humans to a near-Earth asteroid.

Past presidents, including George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, also proposed new missions to the moon and Mars, but budget constraints hindered their plans.

Constellation was projected to cost $100 billion, and aimed to get boots on the Moon's surface by the late 2020s. Bush had earlier started the Constellation program and he too meant to send astronauts to the moon by 2020 and then to Mars.

"Nasa looks forward to supporting the president's directive strategically aligning our work to return humans to the moon, travel to Mars and opening the deeper solar system beyond", he said in a statement.

"We're dreaming big", he added.

The Space Policy Directive 1 will "more effectively organize government, private industry, and global efforts toward returning humans [to] the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars", agency officials said.

Lunar sample 70215 was retrieved from the Moon's surface and returned by Mr Schmitt's Apollo 17 crew.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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