US President Donald Trump on Monday confirmed the US’s willingness to send astronauts back to the moon for the first time since 1972 to prepare a manned mission to Mars.
“This time, it will not only be about planting our flag and leaving our mark, we will establish a base for a future mission to Mars and maybe someday to other worlds beyond,” he said at a ceremony at the White House.
The President has signed a directive asking NASA to step up its efforts on inhabited missions to deep space, a priority that brings together elected officials from both sides.
But Mr. Trump remained elusive about the funding and timing of such an initiative.
The experts are unanimous: reaching the red planet, which is at a distance of 140 million miles from Earth, will require a real technical feat and a huge budget.
Welcoming the presence of Harrison Schmitt, who was one of the last Americans to walk on the moon 45 years ago, Trump said: “Today, we pledge that he will not be the last”.
“We dream big,” he added, promising that the United States would remain “the leader” of space exploration.
Mr. Trump’s goal is in line with his predecessor Democrat Barack Obama.
A few weeks before his departure from the White House, Obama had stated “a clear goal for the next chapter in America’s history in space: send humans to Mars in the 2030s and bring them back to Earth safely.”