On Monday, Donald Trump, the President of the United States signed Space Policy Directive 1, directing NASA to have Americans return to the moon’s surface and onward to Mars.
The order declares that NASA must lead American astronauts in “an innovative space exploration program.” The said announcement continues the White House effort to end the dependence on Russia for manned launches, which started when the Space Shuttle program retired six years ago.
During the signing, Trump stated: “It marks an important 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 footprint. We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and, perhaps, someday to many worlds beyond.”
It has been forty-five years to the day since the landing of Apollo 17, the latest mission to the moon. In a tweet, Buzz Aldrin, a former astronaut, noted that Apollo 17 was the sixth time that humans landed on the surface of the moon.
The declaration of Trump makes him the third president in the last thirty years to proclaim a return to the moon. On the twentieth anniversary of Apollo 11, the first moon landing, the then U.S. President George H. W. Bush announced that the National Space Council at that time would “report back” with “concrete recommendations” in order to reach “the Moon and Mars and beyond.” In 2004, President George W. Bush revealed a three-step vision for space exploration, saying that the U.S. must “return to the moon by 2020.”
In 2004. at the headquarters of NASA, Bush stated: “With the experience and knowledge gained on the moon we will then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration: human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond.”
In October, the National Space Council met for the first time after it was disbanded in 1993, led by Mike Pence, the US Vice President, together with several officials of the White House and executives of the space industry.
Pence stated: “America seems to have lost our edge in space. Rather than lead in space, too often we’ve chosen to drift and, as we learned 60 years ago when we drift we fall behind.”
VP Pence said that America “will win the 21st century in space.” He remarked the council as a way to establish a coherent vision for U.S. policy and strategy in space.