President Donald Trump directed NASA Monday to head back to the Moon with the goal of eventually reaching Mars.
“It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long term exploration and use,” Trump said during a signing ceremony at the White House. “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.”
Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, which implements the desire of the National Space Council to return astronauts to the Moon and pursue human exploration of Mars.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also said there is a military application to further space exploration. (RELATED: US In ‘Urgent Need’ Of Space Defense Policy, Experts Say)
Pence said that the missions will “enhance our national security and our capacity to provide for the common defense.”
The vice president added that the exploration will ensure that the “rules and values of space exploration are written with American leadership and American values.”