At the Johnson Space Center in Houston, U.S Vice President Mike Pence gave a clarion call to all personnel to work towards making a permanent U.S presence on the moon possible. Pence is the chairman of the National Space Council, and has been at the forefront of efforts to get multiple agencies onboard the national space policy.
The Donald Trump administration has been making a push for missions to Mars, with a more permanent presence on the moon. Pence stated that this time the effort is not to just place feet on the lunar neighbor but to build a permanent presence. Setting an in principle target of early 2020 to achieve presence on the moon, he motivated the personnel, calling them the ‘guides’ to the journey. The Trump administration put in place a Space Policy Directive last December, calling upon NASA to build a program for returning to the moon.
Towards its objectives, Houston is developing the Saturn 5-Class Space Launch System, which is a heavy lift rocket and the agency has invited private contractors to contribute designs for the development of a compact space station that will enter into orbit around the moon. The station would act as a research and staging base for further flights deeper into space. In 2003, the Bush administration conceived the Constellation plan, pursuant to the Coumbia space shutte disaster. The program was planned to help in the development of new spacecraft for transporting astronauts to the moon, and enabling longer stays on the lunar neighbor.
However the Barack Obama government called off the program deeming it to be very expensive, replacing it with missions to asteroids closeby while focusing on building low Earth orbit infrastructure. Pence stated that the cancellation sent contradictory signals to the world. He went on to assure that the American Space Program was back on track and that America will lead again in man’s quest to reach the stars. He emphasized that the whole Space Policy Directive was geared towards building the program and that it was only a question of time and not a question if the program will taste success.