Pence Pledges to Return to the Moon

Vice President Mike Pence waves from Air Force Two

The Trump administration's space program began taking official shape today with word the America will go back to the moon first to establish a base.

Within the next few weeks, the administration will form a Users' Advisory Group comprised of various leaders in the commercial space industry. And they're promising that in five years, astronauts could be working around the moon - but not quite land there yet.

President Donald Trump revived the NSC and Pence will oversee the council's first meeting in 25 years when it convenes Thursday.

The president, Pence said, has "declared to all the world that America will lead in space once again".

The vice president also noted that it's been 40 years since the United States sent an astronaut farther than the International Space Station in low Earth orbit.

Past presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and to a lesser extent Barack Obama have proposed spectacular missions to the moon or Mars or both, only to have funding trouble keep them from coming true, said space expert Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation.

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"We will refocus America's space program toward human exploration and discovery", Pence wrote. Mars may be a medium-to-long-term goal, but NASA should use the moon as a jumping-off point.

The meeting, titled "Leading the Next Frontier: An Event with the National Space Council", will be held at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

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

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.

"Here we are in 2017, still relying on the Russians to ferry our astronauts to the International Space Station", Pence said. 'But now we start again'.

"We have proven that USA ventures in space lead to broad societal benefits that lift our national economy", said Hewson. The third panel focused on national security and featured retired Navy Adm. James Ellis, the former chief of U.S. Strategic Command; former NASA astronaut and former DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Deputy Director Pamela Melroy; and former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.

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