Pence leads the National Space Council. The American administration wants to establish a permanent presence on the moon and prepare to put American astronauts on Mars. “We’re in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s,” he said. This goal will cost tens of billions of dollars. NASA was considering moving forward with a less powerful commercial rocket, perhaps a vehicle built by SpaceX or the Boeing-Lockheed Martin partnership United Launch Alliance, to get an uncrewed capsule into space by 2020.
Image from Apollo 15 lunar mission
Now, the earliest possible landing on the moon by NASA isn’t until 2028, Pence said and he warned that if NASA can’t put astronauts on the moon by 2024, “we need to change the organization, not the mission.” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine assured Pence that NASA will do everything possible to meet the deadline. Planetary scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute said 2024 is feasible provided the accelerated effort is funded properly and commercial space systems are fully embraced.This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.