The president signs a directive, without details of time and budget, for a new mission to the satellite and the possible exploration of Mars.
US President Donald Trump gave the green light on Monday to a new space strategy that aims to send astronauts back to the Moon and hypothetically to Mars. The date of the announcement could not be more symbolic: on the 45th anniversary of the last time, a human stepped on the satellite. However, the directive that the Republican signed does not detail either the time or the budget for that mission, although it promises to become a reality.
Trump talks about sending astronauts back to the Moon 45 years after 'Apollo 17': the last time humans stepped on the Moon.
Space Policy Directive 1 calls for taking American astronauts back to the Moon for "long-term exploration and use," and also to pursue "human exploration" of Mars and the rest of the solar system. "Not only will we plant our flag and leave our mark but we will establish the bases for an eventual mission to Mars. And maybe, someday, many more worlds beyond, "said Trump during the brief signing ceremony of the board in the White House.
Despite the nationalist emphasis on the mission, the document points out, without going into detail, that the US will collaborate with other countries and the private sector to move astronauts to the Moon and "develop the technology and the means" necessary for human exploration of Mars and the other planets. The text advances that incentives for cooperation with the private industry will be promoted.
The Trump government had already hinted that it was betting on a return to the Moon. The new policy, based on recommendations from the National Space Council, is a turn away from the previous administration of Barack Obama, which prioritized the exploration of Mars. In a myriad of portfolios, Trump has dismantled the main measures of his predecessor one by one.
The space race embodies the concept of American exceptionalism. Twelve astronauts, all Americans, descended to the lunar soil between 1969 and 1972. During the Cold War, it was a geopolitical landmark of the United States in its rivalry with the Soviet Union. The astronauts of the Apollo 17 mission, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt (who attended the event at the White House), were the last to step on the satellite on December 11, 1972.