Notre Dame professor urges return to the moon

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Nearly 50 years after Americans first touched the moon's surface America is aiming for the lunar surface again.

"I think we've got the support right now of the administration, we've got the support of congress," says NASA's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot.

Last year, President Trump directed NASA to return to the moon. University of Notre Dame professor Clive Neal says the new mission reopens a door that was shut more than 45 years ago. "We start with the moon, we don't abandon the moon, we leverage the moon to enable us to go to Mars and beyond," says Neal.

Neal traveled to Washington, speaking Wednesday about how the moon could become home to a permanent base, serving as an interplanetary pit stop as humans travel deeper into space. "If we can create rocket fuel from the volatile resources we know are present on the moon, then they just orbit around the moon and they refuel from a lunar orbiting depot," says Neal.

Lightfoot said returning to the moon will be a team effort, with the government partners with private companies. Neal says unlike the Apollo missions, taxpayers shouldn't be expected to foot the entire bill for stepping on the moon again. "The wealth that's being created can be used to partner with government rather than rely on government," says Neal.

Neal's biggest concern isn't astrophysics, but politics. Congress left for a two-week recess without confirming Trump's NASA administrator pick, Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine. It's unclear how long congress will take to determine if he'll have long term control of the mission.

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