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NASA ready to announce partners for Moon missions



NASA is expected to announce US companies that will help bring American astronauts back to the moon.

Space agency administrator Jim Bridenstine will make the announcement at 2 pm AND Thursday. "Working with American companies is the next step toward conducting long-term scientific studies and human exploration of the Moon and Mars," NASA said in a statement.

The Trump administration cited the Moon's missions as a key part of NASA's 2019 budget. President Donald Trump wants American astronauts to return to the moon to serve as a base for future Mars missions.

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In December, Trump signed a policy directive asking NASA to "refocus the US space program on human exploration and discovery." The move, says Trump, "marks a milestone in the return of American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for a long-time exploration."

The last time a man stepped on the moon, it was during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. Only 12 men, all Americans, set foot on the moon.

Mars also occupies an important place in the future of the American space. NASA's long-term goal is to send a human mission to the red planet in the 2030s.

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As part of this effort, NASA's InSight Lander satellite landed on the Martian surface on Monday, becoming the space agency's first probe to reach the red planet in six years.

Fox News Chris Ciaccia and the Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers


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