Starting with George W. Bush, the presidents of the United States have presented an ambitious plan to the public to attain human travel of deep space. Bush's Vision for Space Exploration, announced in 2004, called for a Moon-first path to deep space. The plan was to return to the Moon by the year 2020, then reach for Mars and other deep space destinations.

In 2010, Obama announced his path to deep space. Instead of Moon-first, Obama called for a crewed mission to an asteroid by 2025, followed by a mission to Mars in the mid-2030s.

Now that Trump has nominated Jim Bridenstine as the new NASA Administrator, has Trump or someone in his administration intimated what his vision for reaching deep space is?

Note: For those confused about the usage of "deep space" here, please see this post about NASA's usage of the term in relation to human exploration of space. Also, see this article.

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    $\begingroup$ Please do not share any irrelevant political commentary. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Sep 6, 2017 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Uwe "There may be an reentry capsule useful for the last phase of the return trip, but we would need a lot more." Now we're getting into the realm of how real a politician's plan in this sphere is, which is an issue of politics not directly necessary to answering the question. I just want to know what the stated "plan" is--if one has been stated. I don't care how "real" it is. Further comments on this issue will be directed to chat. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Sep 6, 2017 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ Bridenstine favors a return to the moon and exploiting lunar volatiles. He is influenced by Spudis. bridenstine.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=772 $\endgroup$
    – HopDavid
    Sep 6, 2017 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ @HopDavid That's quite a position-dense blog post. It's well written and highlights debate of many issues. It's quite a challenge for example, to make the argument that there exists a constitutional mandate to protect the cis-lunar economy in such a (superficially at least) neutral way. This is worth reading through more than twice. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 7, 2017 at 4:42
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    $\begingroup$ @HopDavid Dead link but we have web.archive.org/web/20170903084343/https://… or marketscreener.com/news/… $\endgroup$
    – curiousguy
    Jun 8, 2019 at 1:47

1 Answer 1


The Trump Administration's policy on Deep Space Exploration is currently defined in terms of the executive action Space Policy Directive-1, signed by President Trump on 11 December, 2017. It reads:

SUBJECT: Reinvigorating America's Human Space Exploration Program

Section 1. Amendment to Presidential Policy Directive-4.

Presidential Policy Directive-4 of June 28, 2010 (National Space Policy), is amended as follows:

The paragraph beginning "Set far-reaching exploration milestones" is deleted and replaced with the following:

"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;".

Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(d) This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.

Donald J. Trump

You can find this document in the Federal Register. No other official policy by the Trump Administration relating to deep space or NASA has been enacted as of December 2017, nor has any funding been allotted to fulfil what is discussed is Directive 1.

Tangential to deep space however, Trump did reestablish the existence of the National Space Council in June 2017 as per Executive Order 13803, and escaping from policy for a minute, Trump has expressed passing interest in deep-space exploration:

“Well, we want to try and do it [send humans to Mars] during my first term or, at worst, during my second term, so we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?”


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