Pence calls for returning American astronauts to moon within 5 years

Cristina Cross
March 29, 2019

Recalling the Kennedy administration's efforts to send astronauts to the moon in 1962, only 12 years after the dawn of the space age, Pence said nine years was too long to wait.

"Today, I spoke at the National Space Council where we discussed the need to accelerate our return to the Moon". He says NASA rockets will be replaced by commercial rockets, if necessary, given this new sense of urgency.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the first human landing on the Moon.

"It's time for the next giant leap", Pence said, alluding to the famed words spoken by astronaut Neil Armstrong upon becoming the first man to step onto the moon in 1969.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine assured Mr Pence that Nasa will do everything possible to meet the deadline.

"It's not just competition against our adversaries", Pence said. Although NASA's $21.5 billion 2019 budget is the largest it's been in years, the administration has proposed reducing it to $21 billion next year with subsequent yearly increases of just 1 percent, The New York Times reported.

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Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) serves on the National Space Council. But NASA officials later clarified that a moon landing within five years was, indeed, the stated objective.

NASA has already set its sights on the Moon's south pole, a region believed to hold enough recoverable ice water for use in synthesising additional rocket fuel.

President Trump has made landing on the moon a goal of his space-exploration policy - reversing President Obama's target of landing on Mars. "Americans lead, and so we will".

The organisation also sees the Moon as a way station that can catapult eventual manned missions to Mars, which has been touted to begin as early as the mid-2030s. Later he announced that NASA is creating a new Moon to Mars Mission Directorate to focus on formulation and execution of exploration development activities. In language echoing Chilly Conflict sentiments, he mentioned that we're as soon as once more in an area race in opposition to "adversaries" Russian Federation and China. "We will take action in the days and weeks ahead to accomplish these goals".

"China and Russian Federation are aggressively developing and deploying capabilities - including anti-satellite weapons, airborne lasers, menacing "on-orbit" capabilities and evasive hypersonic missiles - that have transformed space into a warfighting domain", Pence wrote, linking to a February 2019 report by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

He also said they will be taking actions and NASA is ready for the challenge. "It is important that Congress stay the course, support existing law, and provide required funding so that America can once again achieve greatness in space exploration".

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