The first meeting of the National Space Council started Thursday with a speech from Council Chairman and Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
"The moon will be a stepping stone, a training ground, a venue to strengthen our commercial and global partnerships as we refocus America's space program toward human space exploration", Pence added.
Unlike previous government-run efforts at space exploration in the past, Pence said, the new goal will be to "look beyond the halls of government" and partner with private USA space exploration companies.
"And from the foundation of the moon, America will be the first nation to bring mankind to Mars", Pence wrote.
Orbital ATK's Thompson said the US should be able to put astronauts on the moon within five years through such vehicles.
There's no indication of when NASA may put people back on the moon, nor whether there are any concrete plans in place to make this a reality. It will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and include participation by acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, as well as a number of Trump Administration cabinet members and senior officials, and aerospace industry leaders. The representatives of these companies discussed how their organizations could best serve NASA in achieving its goals, either by providing rockets and services or by building new space vehicles.
Pence repeatedly connected space exploration with national security. "America seems to have lost our edge in space", said Pence, "and those days are over". Something NASA has already done through establishing the collaboration with SpaceX for resupply missions and eventually human transports to the International Space Station.
"America must lead in space once again".
Five months later, he reinstituted the space council with an executive order signing ceremony.
"Rather than lead in space, too often we've chosen to drift and, as we learned 60 years ago, when we drift we fall behind", he said.
"The intelligence community reports that Russian Federation and China are pursuing a full range of anti-satellite technology created to threaten our military's effectiveness".