Humans to RETURN to the Moon within FIVE years claims US – ‘Time for the next GIANT leap’

Mr Pence’s bold claim will cost tens of billions of pounds but he demanded that “it’s time for the next giant leap”. Chairing a meeting of the National Space Council at NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, Mr Pence claimed the US was “in a space race” similar to that of the Cold War. He said: “That next giant leap is to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years by any means necessary and to establish a permanent presence on the moon and prepare to put American astronauts on Mars.

“In order to accomplish this, NASA must transform itself into a leaner, more accountable and more agile organisation.”

His comments come at a time when NASA is under intense financial pressure after it has struggled to help private partners to resume human space missions.

But NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter that it was “challenge accepted”.

He added: “Now let’s get to work.”

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President Donald Trump has championed space weaponry as one of his main re-election policies as he bids for a second term in the White House.

He hopes this will counter potential space arms from countries such as Russia and China.

Those countries have so far conducted “soft” landings on the moon.

However, these were with unmanned robot vehicles.

Previously Mr Bridenstine has claimed NASA was two years away from launching its next big rocket and capsule vehicle.

He said these would be designed to carry crews and cargo beyond the Earth’s orbit.

NASA has already set its sights on the moon’s south pole, a region believed to hold enough recoverable ice water for us in synthesising additional rocket fuel.

Mr Bridenstine also revealed that by the mid-2030s a manned mission to Mars could be completed.


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