U.S. Vice President Mike Pence pledged to usher in a “new era” of American leadership in space during a tour of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Thursday.
“Our nation will return to the Moon, and we will put American boots on the face of Mars,” Pence told the cheering crowd of about 800 NASA employees, space experts and private contractors, but gave no specifics.
The pledge comes almost a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating the National Space Council, which had been dormant for nearly 25 years. He named Pence to serve as its chairman.
Once it is operational, the council will review current space policies and long-term goals for national space activity, Pence said.
“Under President Donald Trump's leadership, we will re-orient America's space program towards human space exploration,” Pence said. “We will return our nation to the moon, we will go to Mars and we will still go further, to places our children's children can only imagine.”
Trump's proposed budget, released in March, called for $19.1 billion for NASA, a 0.8 percent decrease from 2017. It also called for NASA to abandon plans to lasso an asteroid and cut several missions to study climate change and Earth science.
Lawmakers are still hammering out their adjustments to the proposed budget, which should be decided on later this year.