The Trump Administration has made overtures about sending American astronauts back to the Moon – and yesterday the president signed signed Space Policy Directive 1 to do exactly that. Trump isn’t stopping with the moon, however – the directive will send humans to Mars next. Harrison Schmitt, the most recent living human to walk on the moon, was present at the signing – which occurred 45 years to the minute after Schmitt landed on the lunar surface.
Space Policy Directive 1 says the NASA administrator should “lead an innovative and sustainable program 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.” The policy halts NASA’s current work to send astronauts to an asteroid.
Trump said, “The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972…This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints – we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.”
In their statement on the directive, the White House said Trump is refocusing the space program on feasible goals. They also said the country isn’t the accepted leader in human space exploration any longer, but “should be a leader in space.” The White House aims to send astronauts to space aboard American-made rockets in upcoming years, and said American companies will provide rockets and engines to the Pentagon for national security payloads.