We’ve accelerated NASA’s plans to reach the lunar surface, and I was happy to share our plans with an international audience today during a plenary session at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Fellow speakers included Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, both of whom we’ve collaborated with to implement President Trump’s space policy directives.
Just two weeks ago at the meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence, on behalf of the president, charged NASA with landing American astronauts on the lunar South Pole in 2024, by any means necessary. It’s a directive from the very top and a once in a lifetime opportunity to advance human achievement.
We’ve already been working hard on a reusable, sustainable architecture to bring humans to the lunar surface. Our backbone for deep space exploration is our powerful Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion spacecraft and the lunar Gateway command module.
We celebrated the Space Foundation’s recognition of astronaut Tom Stafford with the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award. General Stafford has inspired an entire generation of space enthusiasts, scientists, engineers and astronauts. As he received his award, Gen. Stanford expressed his support for President Trump’s challenge to put humans on the Moon by 2024.
On day two of the Space Symposium, NASA coordinated a historic International Exploration Meeting with over twenty space agencies from around the world. The common thread was everyone’s excitement about moving forward to the Moon together. We will continue to mobilize support worldwide in pursuit of this goal.
I didn’t want to sign off without mentioning the amazing NASA exhibit at the Space Symposium. Our people are doing a tremendous job telling the NASA story, and the imagery, models and hands-on activities look outstanding. I’m so proud of the experience we are providing for the thousands of patrons attending the symposium.
Now is the right time to move forward to the Moon. We will go with our commercial and international partners, and together we will go farther than ever before. We will prove out the technologies that will take us to Mars and inspire the next generation of explorers in the process. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and we the people of NASA are ready.