Donald Trump wants to send man back to Moon, on to Mars

He was asked by CNBC host Jim Cramer if he believed Boeing or SpaceX would "get a man on Mars first", to which Muilenburg replied, "Eventually we're going to go to Mars, and I firmly believe the first person that sets foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket".

Trump signed a directive to the NASA administrator outlining the new mission on Monday.

The US "will work with other nations and private industry to return astronauts to the Moon, developing the technology and means for manned exploration of Mars and other destinations in our solar system", it said.

In their statement on the directive, the White House said Trump is refocusing the space program on feasible goals.

Trump's signing ceremony for the directive included former lunar astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Harrison Schmitt and current astronaut Peggy Whitson, whose 665 days in orbit is more time in space than any other American and any other woman worldwide.

"[The move] marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972 for long-time exploration", he said. "This time we will not only plan on flag and leave our footprint". Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as chairman of the NSC, also spoke at the signing.

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"Exactly 45 years ago, nearly to the minute, Jack [Schmitt] become one of the last Americans to land on the moon", Trump said.

"You are ensuring Mr. President, that America will lead in space in the future and for generations to come", he added. Yesterday, he signed Space Policy Directive 1, calling for a United States-led program with private sector partners to do just that, and then send humans to Mars. They also said the country isn't the accepted leader in human space exploration any longer, but "should be a leader in space".

When the US retired the space shuttle program in 2011, NASA turned to private industry to fill in the gap when it comes to human space flight.

Astrobotic, a Pittsburgh-based startup that spun out of Carnegie Mellon University, praised Trump's announcement, urging Nasa to rend robotic landers to the moon starting in 2020 in advance of a human return.

"The US commercial space industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in private capital to develop innovative capabilities for lunar transport, operations and resource utilization", said Eric Stallmer, the group's president.

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