Trump vowed his new directive "will refocus the space program on human exploration and discovery", and "marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972". "This time we will not only plan on flag and leave our footprint".
As he signed a policy directive Monday meant to "refocus the space program on human exploration and discovery", President Donald Trump instructed NASA to return American astronauts to the moon, alluded to an "eventual mission to Mars" and promised to "restore American leadership in space".
President Trump will sign a directive on Monday afternoon aimed at shifting NASA's resources and attention toward the moon and Mars, according to a statement from the White House.
"The directive I'm signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery", Trump said during the ceremony. However, Space Policy Directive 1 is now only an empty order without the funds to back it up.
"You are ensuring Mr. President, that America will lead in space in the future and for generations to come", he added. The resulting NASA programme, Constellation, was to put astronauts on the moon by 2020 but was hobbled by delays and cost overruns, reports The New York Times.
"The moon will be a stepping-stone, a training ground, a venue to strengthen our commercial and global partnerships as we refocus America's space program toward human space exploration". He noted that there are "a lot of people that want to help [NASA]" reach those goals, including worldwide space partners and commercial space partners in the U.S. "No human has walked there since", the statement said. They also said the country isn't the accepted leader in human space exploration any longer, but "should be a leader in space".
Both Trump and Pence further argued that investment in the space program would lead to increased job creation, innovation and military applications.
When the USA retired the space shuttle program in 2011, NASA turned to private industry to fill in the gap when it comes to human space flight.