American President Wants To Send Man Back To Moon And Mars

US President Donald Trump wants to send man back to the Moon — and on to Mars.

At a time when China is working on an ambitious lunar program, Mr Trump has vowed that the United States will remain the leader in space exploration, and kicked off a process to return Americans to the Moon.

Mr Trump has signed a policy directive instructing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to “refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery”.

“[The move] marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972 for long-time exploration,” he said.

“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.”
Past presidents, including George HW Bush and George W Bush, have also proposed returning to the Moon and missions to Mars, but budget constraints derailed their plans.

Mr Trump was joined at the White House by several current and former astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, and former US senator and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Jack Schmitt, one of the last people to walk on the Moon.

The President said he was taking a giant step toward “reclaiming America’s proud destiny in space”.

“Today we pledge that he will not be the last, and I suspect we’ll be finding other places to land in addition to the Moon,” Mr Trump said.

The ceremony also featured a moon rock 3.8 billion years old, collected by Mr Schmitt’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

In approving the new policy, Mr Trump abandoned what had been a goal of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who in 2010 backed a plan to send humans to a near-Earth asteroid.

NASA said initial funding for the new policy would be included in its budget request for fiscal year 2019.

‘The next generation will dream even bigger’

Acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot said the space agency is looking 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”.

“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.

No human has been on the Moon since Apollo 17 in December 1972.

Only 12 men have set foot on the Moon — all have been Americans.

Under the directive, the US Government is also expected to work closely with other nations and private industry.

Back in June, China’s space official said the country was making preliminary preparations to send a man to the Moon, the latest goal in China’s ambitious lunar exploration program.

The Australian Government has also announced it is looking into establishing an Australian Space Agency, which would help shape the development of a cohesive space program and provide a stronger platform for international collaboration.