On Monday, President Donald Trump signed the “Space Policy Directive 1,” a directive that orders NASA to start sending 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.
NASA must lead U.S. astronauts in “an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars.”
If astronauts are sent to the moon, they would be the first to visit since the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.
“It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use,” Trump said during a White House ceremony. “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.”
The National Space Council met for the first time in October after being disbanded in 1993.
“America seems to have lost our edge in space,” Vice President Mike Pence said. “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.”
Currently, Americans are sent up to the International Space Station in Russian capsules, since space shuttles were retired in 2011.
Boeing and SpaceX are both working on sending transport crew to the International Space Station in 2018.