President Donald Trump has signed a new space policy directing NASA to send American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972 and eventually to Mars, as he asserted that the US will “stay the leader” in space exploration.
Trump signed the new directive at the White House yesterday, aimed at furthering the government’s efforts in advancing space exploration for future missions to the Moon and Mars.
“The directive I’m signing today will refocus America’s space programme on human exploration and discovery. It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use,” Trump said at the White House.
The last time US astronauts went to the Moon was during the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s.
“This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars. And perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond,” Trump said.
He also described his directive as a “giant step toward that inspiring future” and toward reclaiming America’s proud destiny in space.
“Space has so much to do with so many other applications, including a military application. So we are the leader and we’re going to stay the leader, and we’re going to increase it many-fold,” Trump said.
Vice President Mike Pence said the new space policy directive ensures that “America will lead in space once again.”
The new policy asks NASA to lead an innovative and sustainable programme of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.
“Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilisation, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations,” it said.
“Imagine the possibilities waiting in those big, beautiful stars if we dare to dream big. And that’s what our country is doing again, We’re dreaming big,” the US President said.
In June, Trump signed an executive order re-establishing the long dormant National Space Council, a space policy advisory body that was last active some 25 years ago.
(With inputs from PTI)