VP Mike Pence revs up lunar gateway’s schedule

Mike Pence at JSC
Vice President Mike Pence is flanked by portraits of NASA’s Orion space capsule and a space station in lunar orbit as he speaks at Johnson Space Center in Texas. (NASA via YouTube)

During a pep talk to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas, Vice President Mike Pence today highlighted what he saw as the mistakes of past space policy and touted an ambitious plan to put American astronauts on a new space station in lunar orbit by the end of 2024.

Pence said the Trump administration was working with Congress on a $500 million initiative to move NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway “from proposal to production.” The first element of the outpost, known as the Power and Propulsion Element, is due for launch in 2022.

NASA’s first crewed launch of its heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket is currently scheduled for 2023. That mission would send astronauts around the moon and back in an Orion deep-space capsule. Pence suggested that a follow-up SLS launch would send astronauts to dock with the Gateway sometime during the following year.

“Our administration is working tirelessly to put an American crew aboard the Lunar Orbital Platform before the end of 2024. … It’s not a question of if. It’s just a question of when,” Pence told the audience at Johnson Space Center.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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