Donald Trump tells NASA to send Americans to Moon

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

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

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".

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 president signed the Space Policy Directive-1 on the 45th anniversary of the last crew mission to land on the moon, which was Apollo 17 lunar lander that touched down on the moon December 11, 1972.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the National Space Council, have previously vowed to restart moon exploration.

Trump, who signed the directive in the presence of Harrison Schmitt, one of the last Americans to walk on the Moon 45 years ago, said "today, we pledge that he will not be the last". Eastern "signing ceremony for Space Policy Directive 1". Sending humans some 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) to the red planet would be a major technological challenge and require massive funding over more than a decade.

Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon - on July 20, 1969.

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"Exactly 45 years ago, nearly to the minute, Jack [Schmitt] become one of the last Americans to land on the moon", Trump said.

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

"We are the leader and we're going to stay the leader", Trump said.

Past presidents, including George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, also proposed new missions to the moon and Mars, but budget constraints hindered their plans.

Mr Trump also said the program would lay the foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, although he did not give a date for this.

"We will engage the best and brightest across government and private industry and our partners across the world to reach new milestones in human achievement".

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