Trump's Moon Directive Earns Praise from NASA, Others

16 December, 2017, 05:57 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Donald Trump with an astronaut toy at the White House
Credit
CARLOS BARRIA  Reuters

US President Donald Trump directed NASA on Monday to send Americans to the Moon for the first time in decades, a move he said would help prepare for a future Mars trip.

As he signed the directive at the White House, with Buzz Aldrin present, Mr Trump said: "We will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps some day to many worlds beyond".

"The moon will be a stepping-stone, a training ground, a venue to strengthen our commercial and global partnerships as we refocus America's space program toward human space exploration", Pence said.

"The directive I'm signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery", the president said.

Trump's pick for NASA administrator - Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma - has yet to be confirmed.

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The US space agency has not designed a moon landing vehicle or other infrastructure for taking astronauts to the moon, and it will struggle to perform a moon landing during Trump's term in office.

With the Trump administration's apparent support, agency planners now envision a "lunar gateway", or space station in orbit around the moon in the 2020s to serve as a test bed for new technologies and possibly as a staging base for flights to and from the lunar surface.

Back in June, China's space official said the country was making "preliminary" preparations to send a man to the moon, the latest goal in China's ambitious lunar exploration program. "It's time for America to return to the Moon-this time to stay", Blue Origin executive Brett Alexander said in September, describing a lunar lander being developed by Jeff Bezos' space company and promising additional investment if NASA was willing to partner with the firm.

Exactly how to get to Mars, however, is subject to debate within the space community.

But why are so many interested in getting back to the moon, anyway? Saying "we're going to the Moon!" is one thing.

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The presence of water could make new activities: Cheaper long-term space habitation, thanks to the ability to grow food and create oxygen from water; and cheaper rocket propellant, if engineers can produce hydrogen and oxygen in space rather than bringing it up from earth. And, there may be other useful chemicals to be extracted from the moon, like Helium-3. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, who wields considerable power over the space program.

Monday's announcement was held on the 44th anniversary of American astronauts' last moon landing.

The elder President Bush announces the Space Exploration Initiative in 1989 to return to the Moon and go to Mars. We congratulate the Trump administration on its bold vision and commitment to American leadership in space. Americans now ride up to the worldwide space station in Russian capsules, though private space taxis are expected to start ferrying them up as soon as next year. Certainly, space entrepreneurs aren't hesitant to invoke the worldwide conflict.

The idea of putting people on the moon is a bit of a shift for the space agency.

But the asteroid mission proved more hard than expected.

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