On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the US has plans to put astronauts back on the Moon in 2024.
This is four years earlier than NASA’s previously intended target of 2028.
While chairing a meeting at the National Space Council in NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Pence announced, ‘’We’re in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s.’’
This is a reference to China’s successful mission to the far side and a nod to Cold War era vocabulary.
“It’s time for the next giant leap,” he continued, alluding to the words of astronaut Neil Armstrong upon becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969.
“It is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years,” he continued. ‘’The first woman and the next man on the moon will both be American astronauts, launched by American rockets from American soil.’’
In response, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine claimed that NASA is ready to put a man on the Moon once again.
“It is the right time for this challenge, and I assured the Vice President that we, the people of NASA, are up to the challenge,” he said in a recent statement.
So far, only two other nations have conducted ‘soft’ landings on the Moon – the former Soviet Union and China – but with only unmanned robot vehicles.
Bridenstine announced in a Twitter post: “Challenge accepted. Now let’s get to work.”