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Pence outlines U.S. space vision, working with 'freedom-loving' nations, in speech


Last updated 10/25/2019 at 12:08pm

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the opening ceremony of the 70th annual International Astronautical Congress in Washington, on Oct. 21, 2019. photo

Bowne Xiao

The Epoch Times

WASHINGTON-Vice President Mike Pence touted America's renewed vision in space under the Trump administration Oct. 21, including the anticipated Moon-to-Mars mission and the creation of a U.S. Space Force, as he repeated a recurring theme in his speech: working with "freedom-loving" nations in space exploration.

Speaking to an international audience at the 70th International Astronautical Congress – a global space advocacy organization – Pence reiterated President Donald Trump's vision for America to lead in space once again as he brought up how Trump in his first year in office revived the National Space Council to coordinate space activities across the government.

Pence, who is also the chairman of the National Space Council, said space plays a critical role in national and international security as he talked about the soon-to-be-created Space Force, though he did not give an exact timeline for when it would be launched.

"Trump has directed our administration to work with bipartisan leadership in Congress. Soon we will stand up the sixth branch of our armed forces, the United States Space Force," Pence said.

In August this year, Trump officially opened the U.S. Space Command, a precursor to the Space Force that Trump had first announced last year. The new unified combatant command will be headed by Air Force Gen. John Raymond, currently the head of Air Force Space Command, a branch of the Air Force responsible for the military's space operations.

"Soon it will be a reality, and the Space Force will be a vanguard to defending our nation, defending our freedom and defending the rights of all freedom-loving nations in the vast expanse of space," Pence said.

Trump ordered the creation of the Space Force to strengthen the military's focus on space operations, which include launching satellites, providing communications, intelligence, missile warnings and navigation services, as well as counterspace operations.

The weeklong event hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center invites the space community "to gather and discuss the advancement and progress of space in its various features" with a broad theme this year focusing on "The Power of the Past" and "The Promise Of The Future."

Moon to Mars

Pence, in a roughly 20 minute speech, talked about how Trump made it U.S. policy to return to the moon by 2024, to ensure that the next man and first women on the moon will be American astronauts.

"Not only to plant our flag ... but to establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars," Pence told the crowd, as he laid out how the United States plans to achieve the goal.

"In order for us to take this next big leap, we'll develop the technologies to live on the moon for months and even years," he said. "We'll learn how to make use of resources that the moon has to offer.

"That includes mining oxygen from the lunar surface and rocks to fuel reusable landers, extracting water from the permanently shadowed craters of the south pole, and developing a new generation of nuclear-powered spacecraft that will help us fly further and farther and faster than ever before," he continued.

The power of private enterprise in Space exploration was also mentioned by Pence, who described how NASA now is leading a commercial-friendly effort that would create orbital platforms that would one day replace the International Space Station.

In the first half of 2019, there was almost as much invested in space companies as the entire year before, Pence said. In the last decade alone, nearly $25 billion have been invested in almost 500 different space companies with the majority going to American businesses.

"Today, thanks to the leadership that President Trump has provided, the United States of America is open for business to all space enterprises," Pence said.

'Freedom-loving' Nations

A driving theme of Pence's speech was focused on the cooperation between America and "freedom-loving" nations, a phrase the vice president mentioned repeatedly.

"To be clear, our vision is to be the leader among freedom-loving nations on the adventure into the great unknown," Pence said.

At one point, Pence also gave a shoutout to former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was in the audience.

Pence said we must ensure that as more nations start to explore space, we should carry into space "our shared commitment to freedom, the rule of law, and private property."

Reprinted with permission by The Epoch Times.


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