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Trump administration turns NASA back toward the Moon

It's official: Trump administration turns NASA back toward the Moon

"America will be the first nation to bring mankind to Mars", Pence wrote.

Pence said that along with space exploration, the Trump administration wants NASA to renew America's commitment to creating the space technology needed to protect national security. 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.

He said the Space Council's mandate is to find a way to maintain 'a constant commercial, human presence in low-Earth orbit'.

The National Space Council, which was disbanded in 1993, was reestablished after President Trump signed an executive order in June 2017.

In a Wall Street Journal piece and a speech Thursday at the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council, Pence said: "We will return NASA astronauts to the Moon - not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation, we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond".

As evidence of this drift, Pence cited the fact that NASA astronauts haven't gone beyond low-Earth orbit since the final Apollo moon mission, in 1972. 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".

Pence pledged that the Trump administration, with the help of the NSC, will develop and implement a coherent, long-term USA space strategy. Currently, NASA relies on the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, to transport astronauts to and from the space station. "And we will once again astonish the world as we boldly go to meet our future in the skies and in the stars".

Among the participants in the council meeting Thursday were CEOs Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, Dennis Muilenburg of Boeing and David Thompson of Orbital ATK, who each emphasized the importance of the space program to the nation's well-being. Perhaps we'll see some changes to the budget later this year, or perhaps with the president's budget request early next year. 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.