Trump tells NASA to send Americans to Moon

2017-12-12 13:45
US President Donald Trump speaks before signing a policy directive to send American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Evan Vucci, AP)

US President Donald Trump speaks before signing a policy directive to send American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Evan Vucci, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington -  US President Donald Trump directed NASA on Monday to send Americans to the Moon for the first time since 1972, in order to prepare for future trips to Mars.

"This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint," Trump said at a White House ceremony as he signed the new space policy directive.

"We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond."

The directive calls on NASA to ramp up its efforts to send people to deep space, a policy that unites politicians on both sides of the aisle in the United States.

However, it steered clear of the most divisive and thorny issues in space exploration: Budgets and timelines.

Space policy experts agree that any attempt to send people to Mars, which lies an average of 225 million km from Earth, would require immense technical prowess and a massive wallet.

Not the last

The last time US astronauts visited the Moon was during the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s.

On July 20, 1969, US astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon.

Trump, who signed the directive in the presence of Harrison Schmitt, one of the last Americans to walk on the Moon 45 years ago, said "today, we pledge that he will not be the last".

The better known Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon after Armstrong and a fervent advocate of future space missions, was also present at the ceremony but not mentioned by Trump during his speech.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the newly revitalised National Space Council, have previously vowed to explore the Moon again, but offered few details.

Nevertheless, the announcement was welcomed by NASA's Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, who said the agency "looks forward to supporting the president's directive" and "strategically aligning our work to return humans to the Moon, travel to Mars and opening the deeper solar system beyond".

'We're dreaming big'

Former US president George W. Bush also pledged to send Americans to the Moon as part of the Constellation programme, which ran from 2005 to 2009.

Constellation was projected to cost $100bn, and aimed to get boots on the Moon's surface by the late 2020s.

In 2009, then US president Barack Obama deemed it too costly and repetitive of missions already achieved, and cancelled the programme in order to focus on reaching Mars by the 2030s.

Trump vowed his new directive "will refocus the space programme on human exploration and discovery", and "marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972".

The goal of the new Moon missions would include "long-term exploration and use" of its surface.

"We're dreaming big," Trump said.

His administration has previously held several meetings with SpaceX boss Elon Musk and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, who also owns Blue Origin.

A White House statement acknowledged that partnerships with other nations and private industry could well be on the cards.

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.

Read more on:    nasa  |  donald trump  |  us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.