(CNN) On the 45th anniversary of the final Apollo moon landing, President Donald Trump signed a space policy directing NASA to "lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars," White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said.
Gidley also stated that the directive is meant to push NASA to "refocus on its core mission of space exploration."
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence made it clear during their 2016 campaign that they would like to send astronauts back to the moon.
During his first meeting of the National Space Council in October, Vice President Pence said the Trump administration "will return American astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond."
"The moon will be a stepping-stone, a training ground, a venue to strengthen our commercial and international partnerships as we refocus America's space program toward human space exploration," Pence said.
If the United States is to return astronauts to the moon, it would be the first time since Apollo 17's mission in 1972.
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