Donald Trump announces plan to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars

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"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".

President Trump holds up an astronaut toy alongside former US Senator and Apollo 17 Astronaut Jack Schmitt, right, after a signing ceremony for Space Policy Directive 1, with the aim of returning Americans to the Moon. And real questions about the USA return to the moon will be answered when NASA's next budget is written, not today.

Trump isn't having an easy time so far: His nominee to run NASA, Jim Bridenstine, faces opposition from lawmakers. The US space agency has not designed a moon landing vehicle or other infrastructure for taking astronauts to the moon, and it will struggle to perform a moon landing during Trump's term in office. "Now the question is whether the White House will propose and the Congress appropriate the funds needed to turn the words into reality", Logsdon says.

Annual Gemenid Meteor Shower lights up sky
Observers will see fewer Geminids in the Southern Hemisphere, where the radiant doesn't climb very high over the horizon. Some might be from "background meteors" with names like Sigma Hydrids, Monocerotids, and the Comae Berenicids.

Missions to the moon could pave the way to the creation of NASA's Deep Space Gateway. "It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use".

The first manned Mars mission is planned for sometime in the 2030s. "But I'm here to tell you, that as we still enter this new century, we will beat back any disadvantage that our lack of attention has placed, and American will once again lead in space for the benefit and security of all of our people and all of the world". Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, who wields considerable power over the space program. Yet lunar missions could enable, rather than hinder, more ambitious journeys into space.

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