Highlights

  • Vice President Mike Pence finally made it clear today that the Trump administration will direct NASA to land humans on the Moon
  • It’s a return to the vision of President George W. Bush, which was deferred when President Obama reoriented the space agency toward a journey to Mars
  • NASA will leverage partnerships with commercial companies to help it get back to the Moon

 

 

NASA’s Mission Moon

After months of hinting, Vice President Mike Pence finally made it clear today that the Trump administration will direct NASA to land humans on the Moon and establish a more permanent presence on the lunar surface.

It’s a return to the vision of President George W. Bush, which was deferred when President Obama reoriented the space agency toward a journey to Mars.

US agenda to Moon

Pence made the administration’s intentions known in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, as well as a speech he gave during the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council — a newly resurrected executive group aimed at guiding the US space agenda, The Verge reported on Thursday.

“We will return NASA astronauts to the Moon — not only to leave behind footprints and flags but to build the foundation, we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” Pence told reporters at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

“The vice president also announced a call for renewed U.S. leadership in space – with a recommendation to the president that NASA help leads and shape the way forward,” Lightfoot said.

The strategic importance of cis-lunar space for human lunar missions and beyond.

The Council acknowledged the strategic importance of cis-lunar space, the region around the Moon, which will serve as a proving ground for missions to Mars and beyond, Lightfoot added

It’s a move that many within the space community have suspected for a while. Pence suggested a return to the Moon during a speech at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in July.

Leverage partnerships with commercial companies

It seems likely that NASA will leverage partnerships with commercial companies to help it get back to the Moon. A big focus of today’s council meeting revolved around how NASA works with private space companies to pull off its missions in space.

“American companies are on the cutting edge of space technology, and they’re developing new rockets, spaceships, and satellites that will take us further into space faster than ever before. Pence also stressed the importance of commercial companies maintaining a permanent presence in lower Earth orbit so that NASA could focus on deep-space missions.

APOLLO 17 ASTRONAUT WITH AMERICAN FLAG ON MOON, DECEMBER 1972

National Space Council meeting was big on talk

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. The meeting was filled with presentations from various space industry leaders including those from SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.

The representatives of these companies discussed how their organizations could best serve NASA in achieving its goals, either by providing rockets and services or by building new space vehicles for humans.

SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell touted the company’s successful Falcon 9 rocket launches and landings, while Boeing reminded NASA of its long history building the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.