Donald Trump announces plan to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars

The President said he wants to reclaim 'America's proud destiny in space' 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Monday 11 December 2017 21:20
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Donald Trump announces plan to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars

President Donald Trump has said that a new policy directive for manned exploration by Nasa will enable the US to reclaim "America's proud destiny in space".

“It is America’s destiny to be at the forefront of humanity’s eternal quest for knowledge and to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown," Mr Trump said at an event which included Buzz Aldrin, the second astronaut to walk on the moon.

The directive will allow Nasa "to lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars."

Mr Trump acknowledged the presence of Jack Schmitt at the event, the last astronaut to land on the moon 45 years ago.

"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.

Mr Trump vowed that the US space program "once again leads and inspires all of humanity."

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The new policy will also "establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond," the President remarked.

It also aims to increase the private sector's role in space exploration according to a statement from the White House by helping to "drive the burgeoning domestic space industry."

The US has sent 12 astronauts to walk on the moon, beginning on 20 July 1969 when Neil Armstrong famously said it was "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

From 1981 to 2011, the US also sent 135 manned shuttles into outer space for exploration. The shuttle programme was retired after that.

The White House touted the fact that Nasa astronauts will be launched into space on "American-made rocket and crew system" and the policy directive is seen as a "refocus" for Nasa on "its core mission of space exploration."

During the 2016 campaign, Mr Trump promised to "free Nasa from the restriction of serving primarily as a logistical agency for low Earth-orbit activities".

The US also participates in the International Space Station (ISS) programme - a collaborative effort with Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe.

The first crew launched in 2000 and 108 astronauts - including 51 American crew members and 138 other astronauts from Nasa - have taken turns living in the floating research laboratory ever since.

Mr Trump's nominee for Nasa administrator - Oklahoma Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine - is yet to be confirmed.

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