Donald Trump signs directive to send astronauts back to Moon
12 December, 2017, 17:23 | Author: Devin Moran
Once again, the Trump administration has pledged to restore America's leadership in space by teaming with the private sector and returning to the moon.
The US "will work with other nations and private industry to return astronauts to the Moon, developing the technology and means for manned exploration of Mars and other destinations in our solar system", it said.
The directive says that "the moon is of interest to worldwide partners and is within reach of America's private space industry".
President Trump has signed Space Policy Directive 1, which states that NASA must go back to the Moon and eventually send astronauts to Mars as well.
"[The move] marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972 for long-time exploration", he said.
"We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond", he added.
Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, the last living astronaut who was a part of the Apollo 17 mission, was also present at the ceremony.
During his speech, Trump also thanked Vice-President Mike Pence for supporting his vision. 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 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.
Nasa's Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot welcomed the announcement.
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"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.
Back in June, China's space official said the country was making preliminary preparations to send a man to the Moon, the latest goal in China's ambitious lunar exploration program.
Lunar sample 70215 was retrieved from the Moon's surface and returned by Mr Schmitt's Apollo 17 crew.
When the USA retired the space shuttle program in 2011, NASA turned to private industry to fill in the gap when it comes to human space flight.
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