"We will return American astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but [also] to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond", Pence said today (Oct. 5) at the first meeting of the newly reinstated National Space Council (NSC).
Vice President Mike Pence told a meeting of the National Space Council, the first such session since 1993, that the U.S.
Back in June, President Trump re-established the council by an executive order to restore America's capability to engage in space travel and exploration. Pence also said that there will be a "constant presence" in low-Earth orbit. "American companies are on the cutting edge of space technology, and they're developing new rockets, spaceships, and satellites that will take us further into space faster than ever before", Pence said.
"We will return American astronauts to the moon", he said.
Orbital ATK's Thompson said the US should be able to put astronauts on the moon within five years through such vehicles. Something NASA has already done through establishing the collaboration with SpaceX for resupply missions and eventually human transports to the International Space Station.
He called the moon a "stepping stone" and "training ground" to help refocus the program on "human" space exploration.
Space industry leaders say they and NASA are building the spaceships to get there.More news: National Basketball Association makes major revamp to 2018 All-Star game format
"America must be as dominant in space as we are here on earth", Pence said.
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. "Rather than lead in space, too often we've chosen to drift and, as we learned 60 years ago, when we drift we fall behind".
Pence pledged that the Trump administration, with the help of the NSC, will develop and implement a coherent, long-term USA space strategy.
"Here we are in 2017, still relying on the Russians to ferry our astronauts to the International Space Station", Pence said.
But it could be some time before we know how the Trump administration plans to lead in space again.
Mars or moon? Moon or Mars?