Trump to sign directive sending astronauts back to the moon

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President Donald Trump is expected to sign one of his first space directives on Monday, an initiative that will send U.S. astronauts back to the moon, and beyond.

“The President, today, will sign Space Policy Directive 1 (SPD-1) that directs the NASA Administrator to lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars,” White House deputy spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement on Monday, adding that since the beginning of his administration, Trump has set out to refocus NASA on its core mission of space exploration.

Trump’s initiative lands on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 17, last mission to the moon. The crew landed on the celestial body on Dec. 11, 1972.

The move is also largely seen as a change of course from the Obama administration’s policies in space, which instead put a larger emphasis on the role of private companies. The former president cancelled a proposed program to return humans to the moon by 2020, after it came in over budget.

Vice President Mike Pence chairs the National Space Council, which Trump reactivated in June. At the time the president said he was “restoring America’s leadership in space” and that exploration was essential to the economy and national security.

Trump is expected to sign the order at the White House Monday afternoon.