President Donald Trump signed an order on Dec. 11 that he hopes will enable the U.S. to return to the moon.
Vice President Mike Pence joined Trump at the signing ceremony for Space Policy Directive 1, according to the Washington Examiner.
“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,” said Trump.
In October, the National Space Council recommended astronauts return to the moon for the first time since 1972. The recommendation served as the basis for Trump’s directive.
“This directive will ensure America’s space program once again leads and inspires all of humanity,” added Trump. “This is a giant step toward that inspiring future and toward reclaiming America’s proud destiny in space.”
Before the event, NASA spokesman Hogan Gidley pointed to various benefits Trump would bring with the directive.
“He will change our nation’s human spaceflight policy to help America become the driving force for the space industry, gain new knowledge from the cosmos, and spur incredible technology,” Gidley said, according to Reuters.
There was a patriotic tone to the ceremony, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Space has so much to do with so many applications, including a military application,” said Trump. “So we are the leader and we’re going to increase it many fold.”
Trump also offered cooperation.
“The United States will work with other nations and private industry to return astronauts to the Moon, developing the technology and means for manned exploration of Mars and other destinations in our solar system,” said Trump.
The proposal would see NASA focus more on the moon rather than on Mars, as it had done under the Obama administration. Trump signed the order on the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 17 landing, which was the last time humans made it to the moon, according to The Verge.
Pence, who heads the National Space Council, also spoke at the event.
“We’ll see jobs created that we couldn’t even image could be created today,” Pence said.
It is believed the Moon could provide a useful environment to test technologies that could help keep humans alive on Mars.
Trump’s order tells NASA to partner with commercial organizations to return to the Moon.
“[The Commercial Spaceflight Federation] applauds President Trump for signing Space Policy Directive 1, which directs NASA to partner with the US commercial space industry to return Americans to the Moon,” said Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.