Teams working at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week connected a U.S.-built Orion crew module with its European-made power and propulsion element for the first time, a significant accomplishment ahead of the spacecraft’s shipment to Ohio this fall for testing inside the world’s largest vacuum chamber.
Despite appearances and a presidential tweet suggesting otherwise, the United States is “100%” committed to sending astronauts back to the moon in 2024 and establishing a long-term, sustainable presence there as a stepping stone to eventual piloted flights to Mars, Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview with CBS News.
Fifty years to the day after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, a NASA astronaut, an Italian flight engineer and a Russian commander blasted off from Kazakhstan Saturday aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, chased down the International Space Station and glided in for a picture-perfect docking.
In a head-spinning tweet, President Trump blasted NASA on Friday for its plan to return to the moon, a plan set in motion during a 2017 White House ceremony he presided over, and forcefully endorsed in March on the president’s behalf by Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of the revitalized National Space Council.
In what came across as a combination pep rally and old-time revival, Vice President Mike Pence asked flight controllers, engineers and astronauts at the Johnson Space Center Thursday to “rededicate” themselves to carrying out the Trump administration’s drive to establish a permanent U.S. presence around the moon in the early 2020s before eventual voyages to Mars.
The newly re-activated National Space Council is acting quickly to streamline convoluted regulatory requirements that frequently slow development of new commercial space initiatives, a shift in focus in keeping with the Trump Administration’s directive to encourage more private sector development on the high frontier.
In a brief White House ceremony Monday, President Trump formally directed NASA to set its sights on sending astronauts back to the moon followed by eventual flights to Mars as part of a new national space policy intended to make sure America “once again leads and inspires all of humanity” on the high frontier.