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VP Pence talks permanent moon base and Mars mission at NASA

The vice president went to Houston to talk up the Trump administration's plans to retrace the footsteps of Apollo.

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Vice President Mike Pence says the US is headed back to the moon. This time, he says, it's to stay.

Speaking at NASA's Johnson Space Center on Thursday, Pence sketched out plans to send humans back to our natural satellite for the first time in almost half a century and eventually on to Mars.

"While our sights are once again set on our lunar neighbor, this time we're not content with just leaving behind footprints," Pence told the crowd, adding that "the time has come ... (to) establish a permanent presence around and on the moon."

Pence's comments aren't entirely new. NASA has already outlined a plan for a "Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway" that would help make human access to the moon more feasible.

The speech followed Pence's recent visit to the Pentagon, where he gave an update on the Trump administration's plan to create a "Space Force" as a new branch of the military.

Pence didn't focus on the militarization of space during his time in Houston, likely because NASA's charter, which turns 60 years old this year, calls for activities in space "devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind."

NASA and the administration's moon and Mars plans were laid out in the president's first Space Policy Directive, signed in December. The directive calls for the space agency to work with private partners, such as Moon Express, SpaceX and Lockheed Martin, to return astronauts to the moon and then aim for Mars.