U.S. Space Policy Now Officially Includes a Human Return to the Moon

President Trump signs Space Policy Directive 1. Credit: White House.

With his signature on what is now known as Space Policy Directive 1, President Trump made it official, the U.S. is sending humans back to the moon. Now comes the hard work.

It’s no secret that President Trump supports the space program. He does so in part because it creates jobs in many states, but also because he wants to be remembered as the President that sent Americans to another planetary body, in this case the moon.

Trump’s first choice was Mars, but since that won’t happen during his possible eight year tenure as President, he chose to endorse Americans going back to the moon.

The White released the following statement on today’s ceremony;

“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.

Since the beginning of his Administration, President Trump has taken steps to refocus NASA on its core mission of space exploration by signing the NASA Transition Authorization Act, the INSPIRE Women Act, and an Executive Order on Reviving the National Space Council.

The President listened to the National Space Council’s recommendations and he 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.”

Shortly after the ceremony the White House released the remarks by Vice-President Pence. The Space Policy Directive 1 has been released under the title; Presidential Memorandum on Reinvigorating America’s Human Space Exploration Program.

[New Space Policy Directive Calls for Human Expansion Across Solar System, NASA press release]

The reaction

Industry was quick to react to the news with the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) saying the “CSF applauds President Trump for signing Space Policy Directive 1, which directs NASA to partner with the U.S. commercial space industry to return Americans to the Moon,” said Eric Stallmer, President of CSF. “The U.S. commercial space industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in private capital to develop innovative capabilities for lunar transport, operations, and resource utilization. CSF recommends that the Administration challenge NASA to leverage these commercial capabilities to generate greater efficiency, and to partner with industry through flexible, innovative contracting approaches, to achieve the goals set out in Space Policy Directive 1 as quickly as possible.”

Other organizations issued statements;

What does it mean for the U.S.?

This is where politics and funding come into play. By signing the directive President Trump is pushing NASA and Congress to get on board with his policy. There is no new money in NASA’s 2018 fiscal year (FY) budget for this new policy. The question is, what kind of funding will there be in NASA’s 2019 FY budget? And will Congress be on board with this policy and provide the needed funding to make it happen?

President Trump wants an American at least in orbit around the moon before he leaves office in 2024, assuming he gets a second  term.  That’s a tall order. However, unlike President Kennedy, Trump might have the luxury of choosing between commercial human rated spacecraft by Boeing and SpaceX and possibly the government Space Launch System’s Orion spacecraft.

What does it mean for Canada?

The Canadian government will take notice of this new official U.S. policy and plan accordingly, meaning cautiously. Canada is in the midst of attempting to define its own space strategy and the Canadian Space Agency has been laying the groundwork for Canada’s participation in any new moon initiative. The new U.S. policy will add weight to any new initiatives announced in next springs budget.

It’s not inconceivable that a Canadian astronaut could be part of a human mission to the moon by 2030.

Updated: 9:00 a.m. EST, Tuesday, December 12, 2017 to include the link to the Presidential Memorandum on Reinvigorating America’s Human Space Exploration Program.

MDA

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 18 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 25 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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