Trump signs directive to send Americans back to the moon

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"Nasa looks 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", he said in a statement.

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 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.

"We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond", he added.

And his excitement was evident in his four-minute speech at the White House when he said: "This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint", reported IANS.

The directive, which came on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 17's landing on the moon, called for collaboration with commercial companies and other nations, but it did not specify when the moon mission would occur or how much it might cost.

As he signed a policy directive Monday meant to "refocus the space program on human exploration and discovery", President Donald Trump instructed NASA to return American astronauts to the moon, alluded to an "eventual mission to Mars" and promised to "restore American leadership in space".

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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. Schmitt was one of the last two people to walk on the moon.

"[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.

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

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

In the presence of Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon in 1972, Trump vowed "today, we pledge that he will not be the last".

In a separate statement, NASA officials said that the directive also officially ends NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which would have sent robotic probes and then humans to an asteroid.