President Donald Trump directed NASA on Monday to send American astronauts back to the moon and eventually to Mars, but eliminated his predecessors’ deadlines for such missions.“This is a giant step toward that inspiring future and toward reclaiming America’s proud destiny in space,” Trump said on Monday at a White House ceremony, where he signed the new NASA directive. “And space has to do with so many other applications, including a military application. So we are the leader and we’re going to stay the leader and we’re going to increase it much fold.”
NASA said in a statement that the new policy would scrap its mission to send humans to an asteroid.It isn’t unusual for recent presidents to scale back their predecessors’ ambitions for space exploration. President George W. Bush had called for NASA to return astronauts to the moon by 2020, a mission that Obama ended out of cost concerns.
“This is the first step in a very long process,” John Logsdon, founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said in an interview. “The crucial next step is: Is there money for returning to the moon in the budget? It’s been 45 years since we’ve been to the moon, and a lot of people have a lot of ideas.”
Marco Caceres, a space analyst with defense and aerospace consulting firm Teal Group, said “there’s not a lot of meat on” presidential directives to NASA, given that they haven’t been accompanied with specific funding proposals since the Apollo era when America was racing to beat the Soviet Union in space.
“I don’t think simply in order to NASA is going to do anything unless it is accompanied by a notable increase of NASA’s budget, and by notable I mean a doubling or a tripling or a quadrupling of NASA’s budget,” Caceres said.
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