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To the moon! Trump puts his spin on space policy

Trump and space policy directive
Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt gives an astronaut figurine to President Donald Trump after the signing of Space Policy Directive 1. Among the onlookers at far right are Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who holds the U.S. record for cumulative time spent in space. A sample of lunar rock collected during Apollo 17 sits on Trump’s table. (White House via YouTube)

President Donald Trump today signed a space policy directive that calls on NASA to establish an outpost on the moon and send astronauts onward to Mars and beyond, but leaves the “how” and the “how much” for later.

Trump invoked the legacy of the Apollo space program during the Oval Office signing ceremony. And to emphasize that connection, the White House brought in Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, the former senator and astronaut who was part of the last Apollo mission in 1972.

“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. “What do you think, Jack?”

“Yes, we should,” Schmitt replied. “Learn from the moon.”

The memorandum known as Space Policy Directive 1 codifies the moon as NASA’s next big target for human spaceflight. That policy reverses President Barack Obama’s 2010 decision to focus on visiting a near-Earth asteroid, and is more in line with the back-to-the-moon vision that President George W. Bush laid out in 2004.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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