Eyeing Mars, Trump to send astronauts back to moon

Washington: United States President Donald Trump has signed a space policy directive instructing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to send American astronauts back to moon with the objective of creating a base for Mars mission.

Trump said the Space Policy Directive-1, which he signed during a ceremony at the White House on Monday, would enable the U.S. to reclaim “America’s proud destiny in space”.

“The directive will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. 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,” Trump said.

“This directive will ensure America’s space program once again leads and inspires all of humanity. The pioneer spirit has always defined America, and we’re picking that up in many other fields,” he added.

Former lunar astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Jack Schmitt and current astronaut Peggy Whitson were present during Trump’s signing ceremony for the directive which coincides with the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 17 landing, the last time humans ever landed on the Moon.

“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,” CNN quoted deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley as saying .

He added that the directive will push NASA to refocus on its core mission of space exploration.

Trump had vowed during his 2016 campaign that he would like to send astronauts back to the moon. (ANI)