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06 October 2017, 12:27 | Rufus Hill
It's official: Trump administration turns NASA back toward the Moon
Trump administration officials are pledging to send Americans back to the moon - and then on to Mars.
Vice President Mike Pence delivers opening remarks during the National Space Council's first meeting on October 5, 2017 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
"By reviving the National Space Council, President Donald Trump has declared to all of the world 'America will lead in space once again, '" Pence said from a podium standing in front of the Space Shuttle that was previously used for sending astronauts to space.
The meeting's opening remarks focused on moving away from the current outsourcing of manned launches, in which American astronauts go to space on Russian rockets. "We will return Americans to the moon ... and build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond". And they're promising that in five years, astronauts could be working around the moon - but not quite land there yet.
He called the moon a "stepping stone" and "training ground" to help refocus the program on "human" space exploration.
Pence said that in the coming weeks, he and President Trump will assemble a Users' Advisory Group partly composed of leaders from the commercial space industry. Something NASA has already done through establishing the collaboration with SpaceX for resupply missions and eventually human transports to the International Space Station.
"Renew America's commitment to creating the space technology needed to protect national security".
However, it's unclear what truly lies ahead for NASA, as most of today's National Space Council meeting was big on talk, while light on concrete strategies. 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.
Now, Pence says, is the time to recognize that 'in the absence of American leadership, other nations have seized the opportunity to stake their claim in the infinite frontier'. 'But now we start again'.
"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.
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