Vice President Mike Pence is calling for landing astronauts on the moon within five years.
Mike Pence promised Americans the moon during a meeting of the National Space Council Tuesday.
Pence added that NASA rockets and landers could be replaced by private equipment if it would speed up the process of landing another American on the moon.
The last time astronauts were on the moon was almost 50 years ago during the Apollo 17 mission, the final manned lunar mission the United States ever sent. USA astronauts have not walked on the moon since 1972. Earlier this month, for example, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine denied that the nation is engaged in a space race. "That's the next giant leap", Pence said.
Pence's speech echoed overtones of the Cold War tensions that drove NASA to achieve the original Apollo 11 moon landing on schedule 50 years ago this July.
He said Nasa needs to achieve this outcome "by any means necessary".
Included in that criticism, though unnamed, was Boeing, who is building the SLS rocket that was scheduled to launch for its first flight in 2020, until NASA recently announced it would not be ready in time.
The drive to reach the moon reflects President Donald Trump's desire to champion a bold new national objective as he mounts a re-election bid, while also seeking to counter the potential space weaponry capabilities of Russian Federation and China.
Also on Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, testified before the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee advocating for robust Space Launch System (SLS) funding. That deadline, of course, was far past Bush's ability to control, and the USA isn't on track to make it. NASA recently has been shooting for another moon landing by 2028. Since Apollo astronauts last walked on the moon in 1972, no country has made a serious attempt to send humans back to the lunar surface. "Americans lead, and so we will". The Trump administration's ambitious space policy called Space Policy Directive-1 wants to accelerate putting astronauts back on the moon, specifically to the lunar south pole.
The vice president instructed Nasa to aim to land on the moon's south pole, where considerable amounts of ice could be used for drinking and making rocket fuel. Pence said that the U.S.is now in a space race with China and Russian Federation. According to NASA, "the Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency's Mars 2020 rover mission, now scheduled to launch in July 2020, demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet". "We will take action in the days and weeks ahead to accomplish these goals".
In order to get astronauts on the moon by 2024, Mr Bridenstine said the space agency's new megarocket will be needed, but its development and pace will need to be faster. NASA also sees the moon as a way station en route to an eventual manned mission to Mars, which Bridenstine has said might be accomplished by the mid-2030s.