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12 December 2017, 06:02 | Antonio Miles
Nicole Craine Bloomberg President Donald Trump
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".
During Monday's order signing, Mr. Trump said the action will "refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery".
At a time when China is working on an ambitious lunar program, Mr Trump has vowed that the United States will remain the leader in space exploration, and kicked off a process to return Americans to the Moon.
Obama had called for Nasa to begin "crewed missions beyond the moon, including sending humans to an asteroid" by 2025 and to "send humans to orbit Mars" by the mid-2030s.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement that the new policy reflects recommendations from the National Space Council, a White House advisory panel Trump appointed earlier in the year. "This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint - we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond".
The ceremony also featured a moon rock 3.8 billion years old, collected by Mr Schmitt's Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
NASA recently announced that for human astronauts, the path to Mars will include a stop at the moon, where the agency may build a facility now being called the Deep Space Gateway.
Only 12 men have set foot on the Moon - all have been Americans. Schmitt was one of the last two people to walk on the moon.
Former US president George W. Bush also pledged to send Americans to the Moon as part of the Constellation program, which ran from 2005 to 2009.
It will focus on long-term explorations and use of the Moon's surface, in partnership with the private sector.
Even though much is being said about Donald Trump and how accusations of sexual misconduct against him could lead to his impeachment, the USA president seems unfazed and has been going around fulfilling his presidential duties.
His administration has previously held several meetings with SpaceX boss Elon Musk and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, who also owns Blue Origin.
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