Mike Pence: Trump-Led National Space Council Going To 'Mars And Beyond'

Enlarge  Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Kennedy Space Center earlier this

Led by vice president Mike Pence, a bevy of White House officials and space industry executives met Thursday at the first National Space Council since its disbandment in 1993. It means establishing a renewed American presence on the Moon, a vital strategic goal. During one of these visits he gave a speech at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in which he called for further space exploration and said that the United States is at "the dawn of a new era of space exploration".

Indeed, as Pence put it, "Business is leading the way on space technology, and we intend to draw from the bottomless well of innovation to solve the challenges ahead".

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.

"We have proven that USA ventures in space lead to broad societal benefits that lift our national economy", said Hewson. He does not mention NASA's Space Launch System rocket nor the Orion spacecraft in his op-ed, both of which are the agency's flagship programs for sending humans into deep space.

"In the years to come, American industry must be the first to maintain a constant commercial human presence in low-Earth orbit, to expand the sphere of the economy beyond this blue marble, " added Pence. From there, we will turn our attention back toward our celestial neighbors.

"And from the foundation of the moon, America will be the first nation to bring mankind to Mars", Pence wrote.




He touts "human exploration and discovery" as the new focus of America's space program.

The primacy of these stated goals was reflected in the makeup of the panelists at today's meeting, which was held at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Several NASA Twitter accounts tweeted quotes and videos from the event.

Under the previous administration, that stepping stone was much smaller: President Barack Obama had directed NASA to prep for Mars trips by visiting a near-Earth asteroid. Pence's speech as well as the meeting happened while two USA astronauts conducts a space walk from the ISS some 250 miles above the surface of the Earth.

And in a statement Wednesday, NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said he had high hopes for Thursday's meeting of the re-booted council.

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