Vice President Mike Pence announced on Tuesday the administration’s plans for Americans to return to the moon within the next five years as the 50th anniversary of the first manned mission to the moon approaches.
Speaking at the United States Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Pence said that the estimated year of 2028 for the next American on the moon was “just not good enough.”
“It is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years,” Pence said.
“Some will say it’s too hard, it’s too risky, it’s too expensive. But the same was said back in 1962,” Pence said.
Pence attributed the delay in progress getting Americans to the moon to the space launch system (SLS) being plagued by “bureaucratic inertia” and “paralysis of analysis.” In their recent budget proposal, however, the Trump administration proposed cutting the funding for the SLS moon rocket by 15%.
While touting an increased NASA budget, Pence also laid out the administration’s priorities in establishing the US Space Command in order to “meet the growing security threats in the war fighting domain of space.” Also on Tuesday, President Donald Trump nominated Air Force General John Raymond to lead the recently created US Space Command, which Pence confirmed in his speech.
Trump directed the establishment of Space Command in December, making it only the 11th unified combatant command.
Instead of establishing a separate service, the new Command requires less congressional involvement and is seen as less controversial.
The proposed Space Force, which was part of the Trump administration’s 2020 defense budget request to Congress, will fall under the Air Force and have a relationship akin to the US Marine Corps’ relationship to the Department of the Navy.
Pence pointed to Russia and China’s advancements in the space realm as evidence that the United States is in a “space race.”
“It’s not just competition against our adversaries,” Pence added. “We’re also racing against our worst enemy – complacency.”