The US President Donald Trump is sending American astronauts back to the moon. He ordered NASA to focus on manned space missions and signed ‘White House Space Policy Directive 1’ at a White House ceremony today. This directs NASA to work with commercial and international partners to send American astronauts to the moon. This is to be the first step of going to Mars and beyond.
US space policy has been trying to recapture the success of the Apollo program from the 60s. But, in the recent decades, NASA’s manned spaceflight efforts have been marked by a series of false starts and neglects due to sudden changes each administration brought with it.
The National Space Council was disbanded in 1993 after a lot of infighting under the administration of George Bush. Trump revived the council, headed by Vice President Micheal Pence, to oversee the policy of directing US space efforts away from Earth studies and towards deep space exploration.
According to the new directive, the NASA administrator will “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.”
A number of well-known personalities were present at the signing which included: Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon; Senator Harrison Schmitt, the second to last astronaut to leave the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission; Peggy Whitson, who holds the record for the most numbers of days in space for any American astronaut; and Christina Koch, a member of the US astronaut class of 2013.
President Donald 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, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints, but we also will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, towards many worlds beyond.”