President Donald Trump will sign a directive Monday ordering the National Air and Space Administration to revive the program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually to Mars.
“The president listened to the National Space Council’s recommendations, and he will change our nation’s human spaceflight policy to help America become the driving force for the space industry, gain new knowledge from the cosmos and spur incredible technology,” deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement Monday.
“Since the beginning of his administration, President Trump has taken steps to refocus NASA on its core mission of space exploration by signing the NASA Transition Authorization Act, the INSPIRE Women Act and an executive order on reviving the National Space Council,” he said.
Trump has made clear he wants the United States to return to space exploration in a big way. With former astronaut and moon walker Buzz Aldrin at his side last June, Trump signed an executive order re-establishing the National Space Council and naming Vice President Mike Pence as its head.
At the council’s first meeting in October, Pence said the goal of the program would be to resume America’s leadership in manned space exploration.
“We 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,” the vice president said.
The signing of the latest directive comes on the 45th anniversary of the last manned mission to land on the moon on December 11, 1972.
Last March, Trump signed the first NASA funding authorization in more than six years, which endorses a “stepping stone approach to exploration” with “missions to intermediate destinations in sustainable steps” while maintaining a long-term goal of human missions to Mars.
The $19.5 billion bill ordered NASA to come up with an “initial exploration road map” that is due this month.