The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will have a “new goal,” according to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Instead of continuing former U.S. President Barack Obama’s “Journey to Mars,” NASA will be going back to the Moon.
“We will return American 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,” Pence said at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Virginia. “We won the race to the Moon a half a century ago, and now we will win the 21st century in space.”
In his speech, Pence said that President Donald Trump has rededicated America once again to “unlock the mysteries of space.” He added that Trump’s decision to revive the National Space Council is a declaration to the world that America is ready to lead in space once again. However, Pence didn’t give any specific details regarding NASA’s new goal like timelines, new hardware, or studies.
If the plan proceeds, this will be the seventh manned U.S. landing on the Moon and the first return since Apollo 17 took flight in 1972. Pence’s announcement will undeniably disappoint some people who are hoping that man will finally set foot on Mars.
According to iflscience.com, NASA has been working on a huge new rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) and a new spacecraft named Orion over the last decade. SLS won’t be ready until 2019 but Orion has already accomplished one unmanned launch. SLS and Orion are reportedly part of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to bring astronauts to the Red Planet.
The decision to go back to the Moon first will definitely put a major delay on the “Journey to Mars.” Citing an interview two years ago, former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said that canceling the Mars exploration project would be “disastrous.” However, as Pence said in his speech, their plan to return to the Moon will be a stepping stone to their larger goal, which includes sending Americans to Mars and other space explorations.
Recalling in April, President Donald Trump revealed one of his ambitious goals: placing humans on Mars. Trump wanted the “Journey to Mars” to happen during his second term, urging NASA to speed up the exploration timeline. As of now, people cannot do anything but wait and see if NASA makes any new discoveries on their seventh manned journey to the Moon.
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