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

U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at a rally in Pensacola Florida U.S. on Friday Dec. 8 2017

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 USA senator and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Jack Schmitt, one of the last people to walk on the Moon.

Blastoff! President Trump will sign a directive today aimed at sending Americans back to the moon and eventually to Mars.

"This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint", Trump said at a White House ceremony as he signed the new space policy directive.

It will focus on long-term explorations and use of the Moon's surface, in partnership with the private sector.

"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", Hogan continued. Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as chairman of the NSC, also spoke at the signing.

"Under a Trump administration, Florida and America will lead the way into the stars", he said.

The White House didn't provide details about how NASA's work to return to the moon would be funded, or whether any current programs would be cut.

Nasa's Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot welcomed the announcement. He noted that there are "a lot of people that want to help [NASA]" reach those goals, including global space partners and commercial space partners in the U.S.

"We are the leader and we're going to stay the leader", Trump said. "No human has walked there since", the statement said. The Space Policy Directive 1 will "more effectively organize government, private industry, and global efforts toward returning humans [to] the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars", agency officials said.

"And space has so much to do with so many other applications, including a military application", he added, without elaborating. The agency retired its space shuttles in 2011, and American astronauts rely on Russian capsules to ferry them to and from the International Space Station.

Former US president George W. Bush also pledged to send Americans to the Moon as part of the Constellation program. The U.S. commercial space industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in private capital to develop innovative capabilities for lunar transport, operations, and resource utilization.

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