Published: Fri, October 06, 2017
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Trump administration turns NASA back toward the Moon

Trump administration turns NASA back toward the Moon

Pence also proclaimed that the USA will be the first nation to put humans on Mars - whether that will be via NASA or a private company like SpaceX (or a mixture of both) is yet to be seen. On Thursday the council will hold its first meeting in almost 25 years, and as its chairman, I will deliver a simple message: America will lead in space again.

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".

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.

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"On Thursday the council will hold its first meeting in almost 25 years, and as its chairman, I will deliver a simple message: America will lead in space again", he said, citing the national space policy's lack of a coherent vision as the reason the US has been left behind, while countries like China and Russian Federation move forward with their own plans.

His administration announced the moon program would be scrapped in favor of a plan to reach Mars.

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

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Above all, Pence stressed that the United States would lead in space again under the Trump administration.

But it could be some time before we know how the Trump administration plans to lead in space again. He mentions an advisory group composed of commercial space leaders and says, "business is leading the way on space technology, and we intend to draw from the bottomless well of innovation to solve the challenges ahead".

Orbital ATK's Thompson said the USA should be able to put astronauts on the moon within five years through such vehicles. Pence repeatedly connected space exploration with national security.

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Left unsaid is how NASA will get humans to the Moon and (eventually, probably decades from now) Mars. And many members of the National Space Council and Trump's NASA transition team have been advocates of lunar missions. SpaceX's Gwynne Shotwell touted the company's successful Falcon 9 rocket launches and landings, while Boeing reminded NASA of its long history building the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.

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