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VP Pence sets 5-year deadline for moon landing

National Space Council meeting
Vice President Mike Pence addresses the audience attending a meeting of the National Space Council at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama with an American flag, space artifacts and rocket models in the background. (NASA via YouTube)

Vice President Mike Pence today called for American astronauts to return to the moon in five years, laying down a challenge comparable to the 1960s Space Race.

“We’re in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s, and the stakes are even higher,” Pence declared at a meeting of the National Space Council at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., next to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

For an example, he pointed to China’s Chang’e-4 mission, which put a lander and a rover on the moon’s far side in January. He also noted that Russia has been charging NASA as much as $80 million per seat for rides to the International Space Station in the wake of the space shuttle fleet’s retirement in 2011.

“But it’s not just competition against our adversaries,” Pence said. “We’re also racing against our worst enemy: complacency.”

Pence, who chairs the National Space Council, acknowledged that the cost of an accelerated push back to the moon would be great, but said that “the costs of inaction are greater.” NASA would be given authority to meet the five-year goal “by any means necessary,” Pence promised.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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