Pence sets sights on Moon, Mars, in NASA speech

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Vice President Mike Pence highlighted the important significance of the Moon to America’s house future in a speech at NASA’s Johnson Area Middle in Houston Thursday.

“We’re not content material with simply forsaking footprints,” he stated, through the 30-minute speech, reiterating the Trump administration’s goal of “establishing a everlasting presence round and on the Moon.”

The administration has cited Moon missions a key factor of the 2019 NASA finances. President Donald Trump desires U.S. astronauts to return to the Moon as a basis for future Mars missions.

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Pence mentioned plans for a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a NASA orbital outpost that might be within the neighborhood of the Moon. The chair of the Nationwide Area Council described the purpose of placing an American on board the Lunar Orbital Platform earlier than the top of 2024. “We’re on the cusp of a brand new golden age of exploration,” he stated.

NASA launched a draft Request for Proposals earlier this yr that known as on the U.S. business house trade assist ship payloads to the Moon. The company plans to award a number of contracts for Industrial Lunar Payload Companies by way of the following decade, with contract missions to the lunar floor anticipated to start as early as 2019.

The VP additionally described the mighty Area Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft that might be used to hold U.S. astronauts on epic missions over the approaching years. “The SLS would be the largest and strongest rocket ever constructed — all this vitality, all this power, will carry American astronauts to house aboard the Orion capsule,” Pence defined.

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“We are going to return to the Moon, put Individuals on Mars and as soon as once more discover the farthest depths of outer house,” he stated.

NASA’s purpose is to ship a manned mission to Mars within the 2030s.

In December, Trump signed a coverage directive instructing NASA to “refocus America’s house program on human exploration and discovery.” The transfer, Trump stated, “marks an necessary step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the primary time since 1972 for long-time exploration.”

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The final time a human set foot on the Moon was through the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. Solely 12 males, all Individuals, have set foot on the Moon.

Fox Information Madeleine Rivera and The Related Press contributed to this text.

Observe James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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