NASA is going back to the Moon under Trump's administration!
While other countries and private space organizations are aiming for Mars and beyond, the US's NASA is "returning" to the Moon under President Donald Trump. Reversing ex-President Obama's "red planet" plans, Vice-President Mike Pence said NASA would land humans on the Moon again. He clarified Trump administration's intentions at the newly-reconstituted National Space Council's inaugural meeting at Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center. Find out more!
Addressing the gathering at the National Space Council meeting, Vice-President Pence said, "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."
The US National Space Council was revived by President Trump in Jun'17 to restore "America's proud legacy of leadership in space." It includes Vice-President Mike Pence and other government officials. It helps in the coordination of space exploration and national security efforts by the public as well as private sectors. The advisory board of space policy experts would guide the US's space agenda.
Pence's announcement is a return to Former President George W Bush's vision, which was deferred by President Obama to direct NASA's focus towards Mars. He said American astronauts haven't launched into deep space in 45 years, adding that NASA has to rely on Russian vehicles to ferry astronauts to and from International Space Station. He stressed US would lead in space again under Trump.
In 2010, President Obama scrapped NASA's Moon plan, announced by President Bush in 2004. At the time, Obama said, "We've been there (Moon)," asking NASA to take a more direct route to Mars and "send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth" by 2030s. He had even approved the development of the big "Space Launch System" rocket and deep-space capsule "Orion".
Pence's latest announcement marks a "fundamental change" for NASA, which has been working on sending humans to Mars since 2010 with no plans for the Moon. It isn't clear how the destination shift will impact NASA. Pence said: "America seems to have lost our edge in space. And those days are over." However, he didn't mention any timeline or funding details of the plan.