Pence: America must be 'dominant in space'

Russia and US May Team Up to Build Moon Base

Russia and US May Team Up to Build Moon Base

The first meeting of the National Space Council started Thursday with a speech from Council Chairman and Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

The group "ensure [s] that all aspects of the nation's space power - national security, commerce, worldwide relations, exploration, and science, are coordinated and aligned to best serve the American people".

"We will renew America's commitment to creating the space technology needed to protect national security".

"We will return American astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundations we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond", he said to massive applause.

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Orbital ATK's Thompson said the US should be able to put astronauts on the moon within five years through such vehicles.

And the moon 'will be a stepping-stone, a training ground, ' he said, on the way to Mars.

Space industry leaders said they and NASA are building the spaceships to get there. And many members of the National Space Council and Trump's NASA transition team have been advocates of lunar missions.

In a panel on commercial spaceflight, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell described her companies development of reusable rockets and spacecraft, including the Big Falcon Rocket and Big Falcon Spaceship, which the company plans to use to transport people to the moon and Mars.

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Pence served on the NASA subcommittee during his days in the House of Representatives, and has spoken often about watching rocket launches on TV as a child.

The council consists of professionals from various sectors of the space industry, including the Civil Commercial and National Security Sector.

Pence criticized previous administrations for allowing NASA to fall behind the space programs of other nations, specifically Russian Federation and China, while noting that in the half-century since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made the famous first lunar landing aboard Apollo 11, the United States has "ceded ground" due to "apathy and neglect" for space exploration. The council will aid the Trump administration in developing its "long-range strategic goals" related to NASA and the nation's space efforts. 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.

But it could be some time before we know how the Trump administration plans to lead in space again. Perhaps we'll see some changes to the budget later this year, or perhaps with the president's budget request early next year.

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