"Since the beginning of his administration, President Trump has taken steps to refocus NASA on its core mission of space exploration", Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. Yesterday, he signed Space Policy Directive 1, calling for a United States-led program with private sector partners to do just that, and then send humans to Mars.
In a release noting highlights of the administration's space policy, the White House said Trump would "create incentives for private industry" to assist in pursuing its goals of exploration and the development of new technology. Musk has also announced plans to send paying tourists on flights around the moon.
In June, Mr. Trump signed an executive order re-establishing the long dormant National Space Council, a space policy advisory body that was last active some 25 years ago.
'This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, ' he said.
The last time U.S. astronauts visited the Moon was during the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s.
'Today we pledge that he will not be the last, and I suspect we'll be finding other places to land in addition to the moon, ' Trump said.
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The move was a break with the global community, which has traditionally recognized Tel Aviv as the country's capital. The Israeli military said one protester was arrested.
In approving the new policy, Trump abandoned what had been a goal of his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, who in 2010 backed a plan to send humans to a near-earth asteroid.
SpaceX launches rockets for customers including NASA, commercial satellite operators and the US military. "That's what our country is doing again, we're dreaming big", the president said, with Apollo 17 moonwalker Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and other key space program officials looking on.
The policy was inspired by a unanimous recommendation from the National Space Council, which the White House says Trump revived after 24 years.
But presidents have promised Apollo-like ambitions for generations, and Trump is now the third consecutive Republican president to vow a return to the moon.
"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", said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot in a statement. The U.S. commercial space industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in private capital to develop innovative capabilities for lunar transport, operations, and resource utilization.