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Trump Authorizes NASA To Lead Space Exploration Program To Send Astronauts To Moon, Mars

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – President Donald Trump has set his sights on space.

On Monday, the president signed a new directive authorizing NASA Administrator Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. to lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars.

During the order signing, Trump said the action will "refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery."

"Imagine the possibility waiting in those big beautiful stars if we dare to dream big. That's what our country is doing again, we're dreaming big," the president said. "This is a giant step toward that inspiring future and toward reclaiming America's proud destiny in space and space has so much to do with so many other applications including a military application."

In June, Trump signed an executive order re-establishing the long dormant National Space Council, a space policy advisory body that was last active some 25 years ago.

Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of the council, has since had vowed to renew American leadership in the form of the nation's space program.

Pence criticized past administrations and promised that under President Trump, "America will lead in space once again."

"For nearly 25 years, our government's commitment seems to have not matched the spirit of the American people," he said. "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."

At Monday's event, Pence applauded the president's order, saying that "signing the space policy directive" it will ensure "America will lead in space once again."

Pence said the order will "enhance our national security and our capacity to provide for the common defense of the people of the United States."

"You are ensuring Mr. President, that America will lead in space in the future and for generations to come," he added.

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