Mike Pence says the United States is going to the moon and Mars

Pauline Gross
October 6, 2017

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on the eve of the first National Space Council meeting, Pence has set returning to the lunar surface at the forefront of human exploration. Pence also said that there will be a "constant presence" in low-Earth orbit.

"We will renew the American spirit itself and rekindle our belief that America can accomplish anything", Pence, the chairman of the council, said during his speech at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

"We will return American astronauts to the moon", he said. And they're promising that in five years, astronauts could be working around the moon - but not quite land there yet.

Mars or moon? Moon or Mars? However it still marks a fundamental change for the space agency, which has been focused on sending humans to Mars since 2010 - without any plans for landing people on the Moon. It will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and include participation by acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, as well as a number of Trump Administration cabinet members and senior officials, and aerospace industry leaders.

"The current plan is to use these vehicles to build a space station in the vicinity of the Moon, known as the Deep Space Gateway, where astronauts can train and then depart for missions to Mars", the site said.

"Business is leading the way on space technology, and we intend to draw from the bottomless well of innovation to solve the challenges ahead", Pence said.

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Pence said re-committing to space exploration is vital for the nation's economy and security, and he praised President Trump for spearheading what he billed as a renewed effort to ensure American dominance on the final frontier.

The council, dormant for almost a quarter-century until President Donald Trump ordered it reconstituted, is meant to advise the president on policy and strategy for space.

But it could be some time before we know how the Trump administration plans to lead in space again.

'Rather than lead in space, too often, we have chosen to drift.

The International Space Station is a low-Earth orbit satellite. "And, as we learned 60 years ago, when we drift, we fall behind".

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