Trump to sign directive to send Americans back to moon, eventually to Mars

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP lawmakers preparing to vote on bill allowing migrant children to be detained longer than 20 days: report Wasserman Schultz: Infants separated from their parents are in Florida immigrant shelters Ex-White House ethics chief: Sarah Sanders tweet violates ethics laws MORE on Monday is expected to sign a directive meant to send American astronauts back to the moon, with an eye on eventually reaching Mars.

A White House schedule for Trump includes a 3 p.m. “signing ceremony for Space Policy Directive 1.”

The directive orders NASA “to lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars,” spokesman Hogan Gidley later said in a statement.

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Gidley added that Trump’s decision is based on recommendations from the National Space Council, which is chaired by Vice President Pence.

The council — created in 1989 under President George H.W. Bush, disbanded in 1993, but reestablished by Trump in June — met for its first meeting Oct. 5.

During the meeting, Pence announced that the U.S. “will return American astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond.”

Gidley offered a similar statement, that Trump 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.”

Trump’s space policy would replace President Obama’s, which was enacted in 2010 and did not include a goal to return to the Moon. Obama’s policy focused instead on sending astronauts beyond the Moon to deep space and potentially an asteroid by 2025, and to orbit Mars by the mid-2030s.

Monday also marks the anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, the last human voyage to the moon.