News & Opinion | March 28, 2019 11:56 am

U.S. Announces Plan to Return Humans to Moon in Five Years

Vice President Mike Pence says country is back in a space race.

Discovery of 50km Cave Could Mean There is Hope for Human Colonization On The Moon
Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is photographed walking near the lunar module during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity. (NASA/Handout)

Vice President Mike Pence told an audience at the National Space Council in Alabama that he wants American astronauts to return to the moon by 2024.

“Just as the United States was the first nation to reach the Moon in the 20th Century, so too, we will be the first nation to return astronauts to the Moon in the 21st Century,” he told the room.

“That next giant leap,” the VP added, referencing Neil Armstrong’s famous lunar words, “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.”

In order to achieve that goal, Pence says that NASA needs to be a more “leaner, more accountable and more agile organization” — a challenge accepted by NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

NASA has been building the Space Launch System (SLS) for year with delays; If the space agency can’t finish it in time or hitch a ride with the privately-owned SpaceX craft, Pence says he’ll look elsewhere for partners.

“To be clear, we’re not committed to anyone’s contract. If our current contractors can’t meet this objective, then we will find ones that will,” Pence said.