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

Muriel Hammond
December 12, 2017

Trump was joined at the White House by several current and former astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, and former U.S. Sen. and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, the next-to-last person on the moon.

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.

Trump's new directive calls on NASA to ramp up its efforts to send people to deep space, but steered clear of the most divisive issues: budgets and timelines.

At a time when China is working on an ambitious lunar program, Mr Trump has vowed that the United States will remain the leader in space exploration, and kicked off a process to return Americans to the Moon.

Former US president George W. Bush also pledged to send Americans to the Moon as part of the Constellation program.

Vice President Mike Pence has spearheaded the administration's space policy and was on hand for the signing of the directive.

The last time USA astronauts visited the Moon was during the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s. However, Space Policy Directive 1 is now only an empty order without the funds to back it up. 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".

Gidley said Trump's move is based on recommendations from the National Space Council.

Nasa said in a statement that the new policy would scrap its mission to send humans to an asteroid.

Nasa's Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot welcomed the announcement. 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. 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.

"As everyone here knows, establishing a renewed American presence on the moon is vital to achieve our strategic objectives and the objectives outlined by our National Space Council", Pence said.

When the US 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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