‘Next year will be a year to fly’: Pence praises NASA’s work on returning US to moon, further exploring Mars

Pence: Next year we will fly

WASHINGTON (CNN/RNN) – Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to NASA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

He got a briefing from the agency’s administrator on efforts to spur innovation with commercial partners, return to the moon and ensure that space exploration is sustainable over the long term.

Pence congratulated NASA for being voted the best place to work in the federal government, and for the recent landing of a probe on Mars.

"Last month, the world watched as NASA did the impossible again, when the InSight lander touched down on Mars,” Pence said. “And America is still the only nation on Earth to safely land on Mars. Congratulations, NASA.”

Pence also addressed NASA’s progress on implementing Space Policy Directive 1, signed by President Donald Trump in December 2017, which NASA describes as “a change in national space policy that provides for a U.S.-led, integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.”

“I met today with the senior leadership here at NASA,” Pence said. “We talked about the progress we've been making since Space Policy Directive 1 was signed. The president and I are truly grateful for the renewed energy that all of you have brought to this task in implementing this renewed commitment to American leadership in space and human space exploration, to return to the moon and then to Mars."

The vice president also pledged to ensure NASA has the resources to develop the Orion spacecraft, which NASA said will “take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before.”

“I want to make you a promise that we are going to work on behalf of each and every one of you to make sure that you have the resources here that will enable the completion of the Orion Space Capsule and the Space Launch System,” he said. “This year was a year to build. Next year will be a year to fly.”

Pence announced that he would be visiting Kennedy Space Center in Florida next Tuesday.

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