Mike Pence Promises Americans Will Be Back On The Moon By 2024

Americans will return to the moon by 2024, Vice President Mike Pence announced at a meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday.

“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,” Pence said.

The vice president also said the ambitious target — four years earlier than NASA’s current schedule for a moon landing — would be met “by any means necessary.”

“It’s time for the next giant leap,” he said, echoing the famous words of astronaut Neil Armstrong who became the first man to step foot on the moon almost 50 years ago. “That next giant leap is to return American astronauts to the moon [by 2024] ... and to establish a permanent presence on the moon and prepare to put American astronauts on Mars.” 

RELATED: NASA probe to the sun

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NASA launches Parker Solar Probe to 'touch the sun'
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NASA launches Parker Solar Probe to 'touch the sun'
CAPE CANAVERAL - AUGUST 8: In this NASA handout, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket payload fairing is seen with the NASA and Parker Solar Probe emblems, August 8, 2018 at Launch Complex 37, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the Suns atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL - AUGUST 10: In this NASA handout, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, left, American solar astrophysicist, and professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, Eugene Parker, center, and President and Chief Executive Officer for United Launch Alliance Tony Bruno pose for a group photo in front of the ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA's Parker Solar onboard, at Launch Complex 37 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 10, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This is the first NASA mission that has been named for a living individual. Parker Solar Probe is humanity's first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 10: In this handout provided by NASA, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, left, American solar astrophysicist, and professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, Eugene Parker, center, and President and Chief Executive Officer for United Launch Alliance Tory Bruno pose for a group photo in front of the ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA's Parker Solar on-board, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. This is the first NASA mission that has been named for a living individual. Parker Solar Probe is humanity's first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket poised on Space Launch Complex-37 on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, that will carry NASA's Parker Solar Probe to an interplanetary trajectory to the sun. The launch is scheduled for Saturday morning. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 10: This long exposure photograph shows the Mobile Service Tower being rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 10: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard is seen shortly after the Mobile Service Tower was rolled back, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 10: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard is seen shortly after the Mobile Service Tower was rolled back, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 11: In this handout provided by NASA, The Mobile Service Tower is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 10: In this handout provided by NASA, the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe is illuminated ahead of launch, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 10: In this handout provided by NASA, The Mobile Service Tower is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 10: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard is seen shortly after the Mobile Service Tower was rolled back, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 11: In this handout provided by NASA, The Mobile Service Tower is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 11: In this handout provided by NASA, The Mobile Service Tower is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA - AUGUST 12: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 12, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity's first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. The probe will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 11: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard, is reflected in water on the launch pad, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanitys first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA - AUGUST 12: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 12, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity's first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. The probe will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA - AUGUST 12: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 12, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity's first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. The probe will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA - AUGUST 12: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket is seen in this long exposure photograph as it launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 12, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity's first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. The probe will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA - AUGUST 12: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 12, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity's first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. The probe will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
NASA's Parker Solar Probe launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., August 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Brown
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Noting China’s and Russia’s recent space advancements, Pence added that the U.S. was currently in a “space race.” 

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

The vice president did not explain, however, how the administration plans to reach this goal without a significant acceleration in spending. Although NASA’s $21.5 billion 2019 budget is the largest it’s been in years, the administration has proposed reducing it to $21 billion next year with subsequent yearly increases of just 1 percent, The New York Times reported.

The Trump administration has also proposed slashing the funding to NASA’s Space Launch System, an indispensable part of the agency’s moon landing plans.

Still, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine expressed confidence on Tuesday that the agency could meet the new 2024 target:

Lockheed Martin, one of the main contractors working with NASA to get humans back on the moon, said they were similarly optimistic. 

“Lockheed Martin fully supports accelerating NASA’s goal of landing humans on the surface of the Moon,” the aerospace company said in a statement following Pence’s announcement, according to Space News. “With the right level of commitment, urgency and resources, humans could walk on the surface by 2024.”

The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, an industry group whose members include several NASA contractors, was more cautious in its response.

“Though we support the focus of this White House on deep space exploration and the sense of urgency instilled by aggressive timelines and goals, we also are cognizant of the resources that will be required to meet these objectives,” the group said in a statement. “Bold plans must be matched by bold resources made available in a consistent manner in order to assure successful execution.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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