Before Tuesday's meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech that challenged NASA and the nation to pull together to win a new space race, much as we did in the 1960's. He said the stakes are too high to accept anything less than victory on this.
"The U.S. must remain first in space," Pence said. "Rules and values in space will be written by those who get there first."
Pence called it an "all hands on deck" approach where NASA will need to work harder and fail smarter. It’s been 47 years since Americans last walked on the moon, and on Tuesday, standing directly under an Apollo command module, the vice president left no doubt the wait is over.
Pence made it clear that how we get to deep space might not be on the top of the Space Launch System, which is currently over budget and behind schedule by years. He told his National Space Council and the American people space exploration will go on with or without us, and we must use whatever resources are available to meet our goal.
"Those enabling technologies have arrived," he said "And we are going back to the moon."
That, he said, could include private sector rockets if NASA isn’t up to the challenge. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine assured the vice president on Tuesday that the SLS would be flight-ready by next year for an unmanned test flight.
The CEO of Aerojet Rocketdyne, Eileen Drake, attended Tuesday's meeting of the National Space Council.
“I was inspired by the Vice President’s ambitious vision discussed today. Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion has powered every astronaut launched from U.S. soil, and we’re excited to play a role in returning astronauts to the Moon. Our legendary RS-25 engines are ready to power NASA’s Space Launch System, and we look forward to supporting NASA in achieving the goals laid out by Vice President Pence at today’s National Space Council," Drake said.