Vice President Mike Pence asked NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to accelerate lunar exploration plans during a National Space Council meeting held at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Pence calls for targeting a human landing on the Moon in 2024, the council also discussed creating a new Moon to Mars Mission Directorate.
NASA had recently floated a plan to land Americans near the Moon’s south pole in 2028.
Pence had the following announcements:
- VP Pence made it clear that the US is not committed to any one contractor. Pence said “If our current contractors can’t meet this objective [getting manned missions to the moon by 2024] then we’ll find ones that will [meet the mission objectives]. The objective will not change but the agency and the contractors will be changed.
- Private work has begun on the Lunar Gateway and precursors to new moon base
- Canada has signed up for a 24-year partnership on the Lunar Gateway
- four-star Air Force General John Raymond will lead the US Space Command part of the unified Space Force
- They signed the largest NASA budget (not inflation adjusted)
- The SLS and Orion was fully funded again.
National Space Council members talked about needing less bureaucracy and NASA and Congress need to have greater tolerance for risk.