U.S. President Donald Trump holds up the Space Policy Directive – 1 after signing it, directing NASA to return to the Moon, alongside members of the Senate, Congress, NASA, and commercial space companies in the Roosevelt room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017.
Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani


An assessment of U.S. President Trump’s new Space Policy Directive-1 has been issued by Steven Aftergood in his Secrecy News report published by the Federation of American Scientists.

“President Trump created an entire new category of presidential directives to present his guidance for the U.S. space program,” Aftergood notes.

Trump’s new Space Policy Directive 1 was signed on December 11 and published in the Federal Register today.

Moon swoon

President Donald Trump is sending astronauts back to the Moon, proclaimed an enthused NASA public affairs in a news release.

“But the directive itself does no such thing. Instead, it makes modest editorial adjustments to the 2010 National Space Policy that was issued by President Obama and adopted in Presidential Decision Directive 4,” Aftergood adds.

Obama’s policy had stated:

“Set far-reaching exploration milestones. By 2025, begin crewed missions beyond the moon, including sending humans to an asteroid. By the mid-2030s, send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth.”

President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Obama visited Kennedy Space Center to deliver remarks on a new course the Administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human space flight.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Deletion, replacement

“Trump’s new SPD-1 orders the deletion and replacement of that one paragraph,” Aftergood advises, with the following text:

“Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations.”

Earth’s Moon as seen from the International Space Station taken by ESA British astronaut, Tim Peake.
Credit: NASA/ESA

New resources?

At a White House signing ceremony on December 11, President Trump said that “This directive will ensure America’s space program once again leads and inspires all of humanity.”

But it’s hard to see how that could be so, Aftergood explains. “The Trump directive does not (and cannot) allocate any new resources to support a return to the Moon, and it does not modify existing authorities or current legislative proposals,” he notes.


Aftergood concludes: “Interestingly, it also does not modify the many other provisions of Obama’s 14-page space policy, including requirements ‘to enhance U.S. global climate change research’ and ‘climate monitoring.’ Unless and until they are modified or revoked, those provisions remain in effect.”

For a space trip down memory lane, go to the U.S. Space Policy from June 2010 as scripted by the Obama administration at:


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