Mike Pence speaking at NASA

Vice President Mike Pence speaks about NASA’s mandate to return American astronauts to the Moon and on to Mars at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council March 26, 2019, at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Credits: NASA

Earlier this week at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence boldly stated that the Trump administration is committed to NASA putting new boot prints on the moon by 2024. This is four years earlier than NASA’s previous 2028 target.

Speaking at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL, Pence indicated that this goal will be met “by any means necessary.” He even said that the agency would need to embrace “a new mindset that begins with setting bold goals and staying on schedule.” However, there were few details as to how this would be achieved offered. Pence did say though that this could involve using commercially developed rockets instead of NASA’s current contractors. “If commercial rockets are the only way to get American astronauts to the Moon in the next five years, then commercial rockets it will be.”

“Let me be clear: The first woman and the next man on the Moon will both be American astronauts, launched by American rockets, from American soil,” Pence proclaimed. “The president has directed NASA and Administrator Jim Bridenstine to accomplish this goal by any means necessary.”

“Urgency must be our watchword,” he continued. “Failure to achieve our goal to return an American astronaut to the Moon in the next five years is not an option.”

Pence also threatened that “If NASA is not currently capable of landing American astronauts on the Moon in five years, we need to change the organization, not the mission.”

However, according to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, that won’t be necessary. Following the Vice President’s speech, he assured him that “we, the people of NASA, are up to the challenge.”

In a statement, Bridenstine said “We will take action in the days and weeks ahead to accomplish these goals. We have laid out a clear plan for NASA’s exploration campaign that cuts across three strategic areas: low-Earth orbit, the Moon, and Mars and deeper into space.”

Bridenstine added that “There’s a lot of excitement about our plans and also a lot of hard work and challenges ahead, but I know the NASA workforce and our partners are up to it… We will work to ensure we have a safe and reliable launch system that keeps its promise to the American people.”

He concluded by saying “I know NASA is ready for the challenge of moving forward to the Moon, this time to stay.”