Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The United States now plans to return to the Moon — probably to establish military bases — before traveling to Mars under a new lunar program trotted out by the administration.
The federal government’s “Space Policy Directive 1” establishes a foundation for a mission to the Moon with an eye on going to Mars. It reverses the plan espoused by the Obama administration that first wanted to land U.S. astronauts on a captured Near-Earth asteroid as a practice run for a Mars landing mission.
“We are the leader and we’re going to stay the leader, and we’re going to increase it many fold,” said Donald Trump in signing “Space Policy Directive 1.”
“This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars. And perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond.”
Trump said he was taking a giant step toward “reclaiming America’s proud destiny in space.”
“And space has so much to do with so many other applications, including a military application,” he said, raising eyebrows at the prospect of the U.S. establishing military outposts on the Moon.
“NASA looks forward to supporting the president’s directive strategically aligning our work to return humans to the Moon, travel to Mars and opening the deeper solar system beyond,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot.
U.S. interest in building a military base on the Moon extends back to 1959 and to a top secret proposal called “Project Horizon.”
Project Horizon was a study to determine the feasibility of constructing a scientific and military base on the Moon. The project proposal said “The lunar outpost is required to develop and protect potential United States interests on the moon; to develop techniques in moon-based surveillance of the earth and space, in communications relay, and in operations on the surface of the moon; to serve as a base for exploration of the moon, for further exploration into space and for military operations on the moon if required; and to support scientific investigations on the moon.”
The permanent outpost was predicted to cost $6 billion and become operational in December 1966 with 12 soldiers. Project Horizon never progressed past the feasibility stage, however.
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