WASHINGTON (AP) _ Trump administration officials are pledging to send Americans back to the moon _ and then on to Mars.
At its first meeting in a quarter-century Thursday, the recently-resurrected National Space Council met with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the USA space agenda's aim to send astronauts "to Mars and beyond".
Here's what Vice President Mike Pence is saying: "We will return American astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundations we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond". Pence also stressed the importance of commercial companies maintaining a permanent presence in lower Earth orbit so that NASA could focus on deep-space missions. To correct this, he said, "President Trump has charged this National Space Council with reviewing America's current policy and our long range goals and coordinating all national space activities from security to commerce to exploration". In recent years NASA has talked about sending humans to a space station near the Moon but not landing astronauts there.
And the moon 'will be a stepping-stone, a training ground, ' he said, on the way to Mars.
Space industry leaders say they and NASA are building the spaceships to get there. In response, the space agency devised a plan to pluck a boulder off a space rock and haul that fragment into orbit around the moon.
Now he'll have to contend with wrangling unknown sums of money out of Congress for a three-pronged strategy that includes civil space exploration, commercial development of space travel, and national security issues related to orbiting satellites and potential weapons.
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.
In a statement today, US Vice President Mike Pence stated that NASA will once again put people on the moon, though no time frame for this planned project was given.
"Rather than lead in space, too often, we've chosen to drift", he said. Perhaps we'll see some changes to the budget later this year, or perhaps with the president's budget request early next year.