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29 March 2019, 05:39 | Edward Lowe
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The US government wants to send to the information of Vice-President Mike Pence in the next five years, American astronauts to the moon. Pence believes NASA has taken too slow to finish the job.
Pence said that the SLS plans should be accelerated to meet the 2024 lunar objective, "by any means necessary".
The willingness to involve private companies attracted the interest of SpaceX head Elon Musk, who tweeted: "It would be so inspiring for humanity to see humanity return to the moon!" in response to a NASA statement about the VP's remarks. "That's not good enough". SLS was originally intended for all the EM flights, but the administration has recently prioritized the flights themselves, even on commercial rockets, over flying them on NASA's own SLS.
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Americans will return to the moon by 2024, Vice President Mike Pence announced at a meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday.
Bridenstine also said NASA on Tuesday had issued its first "task order" for commercial delivery services to the moon, adding that nine US companies under contract with NASA were bidding to deliver the first set of science instruments and technical demonstrations to the lunar surface. The White House confirmed that NASA would create a Moon-to-Mars Mission Directorate and make all necessary efforts to achieve Exploration Mission-1, a foundational uncrewed mission around the Moon. This means it will be hard to complete the rocket by 2024 unless funding is resolved. He called for a "new mentality" in the space Agency. Raymond is now the Air Force's top space official, a position he will also keep. He also mentioned the Lunar Gateway, which is designed as outposts on the moon and the missions to Mars.
Pence threatened to use commercial launch systems or to look to other partners if NASA is not ready in time. "Americans lead, and so we will", Pence said to cheers and applause. In December, China successfully landed an unmanned mission on the far side of the moon, making it the first country to do so. The touchdown, Pence said, "revealed [China's] ambition to seize the lunar strategic high ground and become the world's pre-eminent spacefaring nation".
Pence told fellow members of the Space Council at a NASA facility in the state of Alabama that NASA needs to transform itself into a leaner, more accountable organization that is capable of meeting deadlines within existing budgets. All these and it feels like the intense space race in the '60s is emerging again.
He added: "That next giant leap is to return American astronauts to the Moon within the next five years by any means necessary, and to establish a permanent presence on the Moon and prepare to put American astronauts on Mars". Estimates calculate that the Apollo missions cost $169 billion in today's dollars.
But work has not yet started on building a lunar lander.
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