US President Donald Trump directed NASA on Monday to send Americans to the Moon for the first time since 1972, in order to prepare for future trips to Mars. Musk has also announced plans to send paying tourists on flights around the moon.
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Space Policy Directive 1 makes official a recommendation approved by the NSC in October.
During his speech, Trump also thanked Vice-President Mike Pence for supporting his vision.
"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.
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The directive, which came on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 17's landing on the moon, called for collaboration with commercial companies and other nations, but it did not specify when the moon mission would occur or how much it might cost.
The White House didn't provide details about how NASA's work to return to the moon would be funded, or whether any current programs would be cut. That structure could serve as a kind of way station between the Earth and the Red Planet. Jack Schmitt, one of the most recent men to have walked on the moon, Trump described the directive, portraying space exploration as an encapsulation of America's "pioneering spirit".
Nasa's Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot welcomed the announcement.
Currently, Boeing is the main contractor for NASA's Space Launch System, working alongside United Launch Alliance, Orbital ATK, and Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop the SLS system which aims to launch rockets into deep space using NASA's new Orion spacecraft.
"Given its relative closeness, the moon in particular offers humans the best hope for long-term exploration and utilization", the statement said. "CSF recommends that the Administration direct NASA to leverage these capabilities to generate greater efficiency, as well as partner with industry through flexible, innovative contracting approaches, to accelerate progress towards achieving the goals set out in Space Policy Directive".