George W. Bush has made going to the Moon again a priority for NASA. He sees it as a stepping stone for a manned mission to Mars, and as a way to distract attention for domestic and foreign policy failures. Space policy is generally a bipartisan affair; in this case the policy seems to have been developed by the White House without much input from outside, and some of the strongest opponents have been Republican members of the House of Representatives. Many in the media have raised the usually objections about spending the money on Earth rather than in space; more critically, representatives of the Kerry campaign (in particular Lori Garver) have repeatedly criticized the new program as a collection of empty promises. Kerry himself has been supportive of NASA as part of his strong support for science research funding; however he has also indicated resolving the budget deficit is a higher priority.
History of Exploration
On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon while Michael Collins orbited above them. This first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11, was followed by six others. During the third mission, Apollo 13, an oxygen tank exploded, and it took heroic action by the crew and their ground support team to bring them all home alive. In all, twelve men set foot on the Moon before the Apollo missions were cancelled.
During the 1960s and 70s, there were many unmanned missions to the Moon, including the American Ranger, Surveyor and Orbiter series, and the Soviet Luna and Lunakhod series.
More recently, the United States resumed exploration with the Lunar Prospector and Clemetine missions, and the European Union sent SMART-1.