USA to send astronauts back to the Moon, "Mars and beyond"

USA to send astronauts back to the Moon,

USA to send astronauts back to the Moon, "Mars and beyond"

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.

Pence, during the first meeting of the National Space Council in October, said the Trump administration "will return American astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond".

Acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot said: "NASA looks forward to supporting the president's directive strategically aligning our work to return humans to the Moon, travel to Mars and opening the deeper solar system beyond".

Trump is scheduled to sign the directive at 3 p.m. Eastern "signing ceremony for Space Policy Directive 1".

Past presidents, including George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, also proposed new missions to the moon and Mars, but budget constraints hindered their plans.

In the presence of Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon in 1972, Trump vowed "today, we pledge that he will not be the last". Sending humans some 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) to the red planet would be a major technological challenge and require massive funding over more than a decade.

The directive, which came on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 17's landing on the moon, called for collaboration with commercial companies and other nations, but it did not specify when the moon mission would occur or how much it might cost.

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

The Obama administration ultimately refocused attention on asteroid missions and an eventual mission to Mars by the 2030s.

"The next generation will dream even bigger and reach higher as we launch challenging new missions, and make new discoveries and technological breakthroughs on this dynamic path", he said.

NASA recently announced that for human astronauts, the path to Mars will include a stop at the moon, where the agency may build a facility now being called the Deep Space Gateway.

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