(WTSP) -- President Trump wants to send Americans back to the moon, and eventually Mars. He signed a space policy directive this week, surrounded by astronauts, including one of the last Americans to land on the moon 45 years ago.
“This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond,” he said.
The last time man stood on the moon -- 1972 -- is the same year the first pocket scientific calculator came out.
“You have more computer power in your car, or probably in your cell phone, than what we had in the lunar lander,” said Craig Joseph, an astronomy professor at St. Petersburg College.
He's excited NASA will finally be sending astronauts to the moon again.
“I think we have to become comfortable working in that extraterrestrial environment,” he explained.
He says it's a good place to try out new technology. Astronauts could practice techniques like landing and docking on the moon before doing it on Mars.
The moon is also about 240,000 miles closer to Mars than Earth is. It'd be easier to launch a space shuttle from the moon because the moon's gravitational pull is much weaker.
“So it takes up less fuel and is more cost-effective,” Jose Cotayo of MOSI said.
He shares Joseph’s excitement. However, they both admit, Mars is a long way away—33 million miles and about eight months by shuttle.
“I just can't envision us to be stuck on the earth for the next 500 years or something,” Joseph said. “It's just our nature to explore.”
Joseph said with international cooperation, making it to Mars is attainable. Stepping foot on the moon, he explained, is a step in the right direction.