Trump wants to send astronauts back to the moon and eventually Mars. Thus, he also plans to keep America the leader in space exploration.
On a Monday meeting during a White House signing ceremony, Trump authorized the acting NASA administrator Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. to “lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars”.
He also stressed that the United States is the leader and will continue to be so.
“We are the leader and we’re going to stay the leader, and we’re going to increase it many fold,” Trump said in signing “Space Policy Directive 1” that establishes a foundation for a mission to the moon and eventually Mars.
“The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” Trump said.
The move, Mr. Trump said, “marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-time exploration”.
“This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars,” Trump said. “And perhaps, someday to many worlds beyond.”
NASA’s plans to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.
Under the directive, the government might work closely with other nations and private industry.
Former lunar astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Harrison Schmitt and current astronaut Peggy Whitson together with the vice president Mike Pence were present during Trump’s signing ceremony for the directive.
NASA said initial funding for the new policy would be included in its budget request for the fiscal year 2019.
“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,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot in a statement.
However, Monday also marks the 45th anniversary of the moon landing by Mr. Schmitt and Eugene Cernan, the Apollo 17 commander. Mr. Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, died earlier this year at the age of 82.