"We've got to have American rockets going up from American soil. And literally, within the next year, we'll have American astronauts going back into space from right here in the U.S.A. Then, it's to the moon, where we establish a presence. This time, Major, when we go to the moon, we're not going to visit. We're going to stay. We're going to develop resources. We're going to develop new methods, new technology. And then it's on from the moon to Mars," Pence told CBS News.
According to Pence, the United States plans to send astronauts to the moon in 2024 as part of NASA's newly named Artemis program, where they will establish a long-term and sustainable presence before going to Mars.
"And the president fully endorses that," the vice president added.
The United States is engaged in the development of its Orion spacecraft for future flights beyond Earth's orbit. In March, Pence announced that the United States would send astronauts to the moon by 2024 instead of 2028, as was initially planned. NASA astronauts are expected to fly to the moon aboard the Orion, which will be put into orbit by the SLS super-heavy rocket.
Additionally, sometime in 2020, Orion will make its first unmanned flight to the moon during the Artemis 1 mission, which will be the first joint test both for the spacecraft and the launch vehicle. The mission is expected to last for about three weeks.
The United States' Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on Earth’s only natural satellite. The landing took place on 20 July 1969. The US carried out six crewed landings on the Moon between 1969 and 1972.