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Pence pledges that United States will go to the moon, Mars and beyond
06 October 2017, 12:43 | Hattie Nash
Aubrey Gemignani EPA NASA Vice President Mike Pence addressed NASA employees in July
The Trump administration is committed to sending astronauts to the moon as part of a broader push to prioritize human spaceflight and firm up US dominance in the final frontier, Vice President Mike Pence said.
Trump administration officials are pledging to send Americans back to the moon - and then on to Mars.
"We will refocus America's space program toward human exploration and discovery", Pence wrote. In response, the space agency devised a plan to pluck a boulder off a space rock and haul that fragment into orbit around the moon.
Pence several times bemoaned a USA space program that had fallen behind, asking space executives what they thought.
"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", he said. Perhaps we'll see some changes to the budget later this year, or perhaps with the president's budget request early next year. 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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Since the ending of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, the only way to get to the ISS is via Russia's Soyuz spacecrafts, and there has not been a declared replacement for the shuttle fleet. That service now costs $76 million per seat. The council will aid the Trump administration in developing its "long-range strategic goals" related to NASA and the nation's space efforts.
Pence laid out some specifics for the administration's plan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday.
"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. And as I said our adversaries are aggressively developing jamming, hacking and other technologies meant to cripple military surveillance navigation communications systems. Second, Pence identifies America as the "first nation" to send humans to Mars.
Promote reforms "to expand opportunities for American citizens and ensure that the U.S.is at the forefront of economic development in outer space".
This seems to clearly be a reference to innovative rocket design and reusability coming from new space companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. Pence also explained how desperately the USA needs technology of its own in space, to protect its surveillance, communication, and navigation systems from hacking attempts.
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