Donald Trump has instructed Nasa to start planning a return to the Moon as a stepping stone en route to Mars and "beyond".

The United States has not sent astronauts to the Moon since 1972 and on 11 December, Trump promised that intergalactic adventure would not be the last. "This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint," Trump promised as he signed the declaration. "We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond."

Present at the ceremony was the last man to walk on the Moon, Harrison Schmitt and the second person to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin. Trump vowed in reference to Schmitt: "Today, we pledge that he will not be the last."

Nasa's acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said he was excited about Trump's declaration. Despite the excitement, details on funding and costs are still scarce. There was also no timeline for the Moon landings.

George W Bush announced the Constellation space programme in 2005 which was meant to send humans to the Moon in the 2020s. But Obama eventually scrapped the proposal in favour of reaching Mars in 25 years. Constellation would also have costed the US government around $100bn.

Patriotic Americans have since taken to Twitter to laud Trump's Moon initiative.