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Trump to start process of sending Americans back to moon: White House

12 December 2017

President Donald Trump is scheduled to sign his administration's first space policy directive in a White House ceremony December 11, one that will formally direct NASA to send humans back to the moon. Trump's directive orders Nasa instead to "enable human expansion across the solar system", "lead the return of humans to the moon" and follow that with "human missions to Mars and other destinations".

Trump's plans, which are a part of the Space Policy Directive 1, intend to prioritise the exploration of space, something he has been stressing on for a while now.

Harrison Schmitt, an astronaut on Apollo 17, stood by the president while he signed Space Policy Directive 1. "This time we will not only plan on flag and leave our footprint".

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

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

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"As everyone here knows, establishing a renewed American presence on the moon is vital to achieve our strategic objectives and the objectives outlined by our National Space Council", Pence said. President George W. Bush ordered a moon base to be built and for humans to live there for extended periods. The president said that the U.S. eventually aims to reach Mars and many other "worlds".

The goal of the new Moon missions would include "long-term exploration and use" of its surface.

"This is the first step in a very long process", John Logsdon, founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said in an interview.

His administration has previously held several meetings with SpaceX boss Elon Musk and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, who also owns Blue Origin. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972...

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

Trump to start process of sending Americans back to moon: White House