To the Moon!
On Dec. 11, 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 1, ordering NASA to return astronauts to the moon ahead of crewed missions to Mars and beyond. See the moment in photos here. [Read our reaction roundup by experts] This Photo: On the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission, President Donald Trump addresses the press in the Roosevelt room of the White House about the importance of returning to the moon. Trump's Space Policy Directive 1 calls for a return to human exploration of the moon as a foundation for future missions to Mars.
Standing with Vice President Mike Pence, members of the Senate, Congress, NASA and commercial space companies, President Trump speaks to the press. Pence leads the National Space Council, which met in October 2017 and recommended the moon as the next destination for American astronauts.
The Next Step
Vice President Pence talks to the press on Dec. 11 with (from the left) President Trump, Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, astronaut Peggy Whitson and astronaut Christina Koch, to the right. Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison "Jack" Schmitt also attended the ceremony.
Admiring Lunar Specimen
Former astronaut Jack Schmitt and Ivanka Trump admire a sample from the moon, collected by Schmitt during the Apollo 17 mission, which landed on the moon in December 1972.
A close-up of the moon rock brought back to Earth by astronaut Jack Schmitt during Apollo 17, the final mission of the Apollo Program, is displayed during the ceremony as President Trump signs the Space Policy Directive - 1, instructing NASA to return to the moon.
A Call to Action
With the Space Policy Directive 1, President Trump tasked NASA to "lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars," according to White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.
After signing the SPD-1, President Trump holds an astronaut toy given to him by Apollo 17 astronaut Jack Schmitt.
Making It Official
President Trump displays the Space Policy Directive 1, a signed document charging NASA with returning the U.S. to the moon and eventually Mars and other destinations across the solar system.
A Proud Moment
In the Roosevelt room in the White House, President Trump signs the Space Policy Directive 1, directing NASA to return to the moon, and eventually Mars, using an inventive space exploration program.
Support from the Crewmembers
Following President Trump's signing of the Space Policy Directive -1, astronaut Peggy Whitson and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin talk with Vice President Pence. The ceremony also honors the anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission.
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Christine Lunsford joined the Space.com team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with Space.com, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.