Vice President Mike Pence vowed Thursday that the U.S. will become the international leader in space exploration, thanks in part to the Trump administration's reinvigorated National Space Council.
"More than ever, American prosperity and security depend on U.S. leadership in space. Yet national space policy often has lacked a coherent, cohesive vision. The results not only are disappointing; they endanger the well-being of the American people," Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday.
President Trump revived the National Space Council after nearly 25 years of inactivity. Pence said the group's goal is to help the administration develop and implement long-range strategic goals for U.S. space policy.
Pence, chairman of the council, said he will tell his members at its first meeting Thursday that "America will lead in space again."
The council intends to champion human exploration of space, and will start by launching astronauts into low-Earth orbit for the first time in 45 years. Pence also vowed the U.S. will be the first country to put people on Mars.
The council has begun to create a Users' Advisory Group that will advise them on various issues. The group will be comprised of leaders in the commercial space industry.
NASA announced in September that it is partnering with the Russians on space exploration goals.
The move is the opposite of America's approach to space travel in the 1960s when former President John F. Kennedy ordered NASA to beat the Russians to the moon.
NASA said both countries have a common vision for human exploration and see the deep space gateway as a "strategic component of human space exploration."
As a result of the partnership, NASA will expand its presence of humans in outer space, starting with the moon and then deep space exploration.