US Vice President Mike Pence vowed Thursday to usher in a “new era” of American leadership in space, with a return to the Moon and explorers on Mars, but offered few details.
Pence, who was recently named to head a government advisory body called the National Space Council, said the group would hold its first meeting “before the summer is out.”
He also toured NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to see progress in constructing a NASA spaceship destined for deep space and privately built capsules designed to send astronauts to low-Earth orbit in the coming years.
Our nation will return to the Moon, and we will put American boots on the face of Mars,” Pence told the cheering crowd of about 800 NASA employees, space experts and private contractors, but gave no specifics.
“We did win the race to the Moon,” he added, recalling the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s which sent men — one of whom, Buzz Aldrin, sat in the audience — to the surface of the Moon.
NASA earlier this year announced it is exploring a project called the Deep Space Gateway, which could send astronauts into the vicinity of the Moon using a massive new rocket, known as the Space Launch System, or SLS, being developed by NASA.
And propelling people to Mars by the 2030s was a key feature of US space policy under the previous administrations of Barack Obama and George W. Bush