Pence says NASA will put people on the moon again

NASA Provides Coverage for First Meeting of the National Space Council

"The President has charged us with laying the foundation for American to maintain a constant commercial human presence in low-Earth orbit".

Pence explained that America "seems to have lost our edge in space".

"Rather than lead in space, too often, we've chosen to drift", he 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.

Vice President Mike Pence delivers opening remarks during the National Space Council's first meeting on October 5, 2017 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

Mars or moon? Moon or Mars?

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

For now, it's unknown how this destination shift will affect NASA's long-term plans.

Among the signatories of the statement were Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan, the first and last men to walk on the moon, and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell. "And we will once again astonish the world as we boldly go to meet our future in the skies and in the stars".

"The intelligence community reports that Russian Federation and China are pursuing a full range of anti-satellite technology created to threaten our military's effectiveness". It means establishing a renewed American presence on the Moon, a vital strategic goal.

Space industry leaders say they and NASA are building the spaceships to get there. Perhaps Pence will elaborate on this issue during the first space council meeting, which begins at 10am ET Thursday.

"America must be as dominant in space as we are here on earth", Pence said.

Boeing is assisting in NASA's commercial crew program with the development of the CST-100 Starliner. In recent years NASA has talked about sending humans to a space station near the Moon but not landing astronauts there. 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".

David Thompson, president of the space company Orbital ATK, said NASA's Orion capsule and super-sized Space Launch System rocket should be ready in a couple years, so flying around the moon and even making a lunar orbiting outpost is within reach.

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