Pence was also explicit that meeting the new five-year goal should be accomplished “by any means necessary,” including switching to commercial rockets. NASA has planned to send astronauts beyond orbit using its new Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft, but SLS has been plagued by delays. Earlier this month, Bridenstine testified before a congressional committee that NASA may need to perform the first uncrewed launch of Orion in 2020 using a commercial rocket like a SpaceX Falcon Heavy instead. However, in a statement released later Tuesday, Bridenstine said that “while some of these alternative vehicles could work, none was capable of achieving our goals to orbit around the moon for Exploration Mission-1 within our timeline and on budget. The results of this two-week study reaffirmed our commitment to the SLS. More details will be released in the future.”Despite the challenges, Bridenstine said NASA will work to accomplish the goal of landing astronauts near the moon’s south pole by 2024.Sticking to schedules hasn’t always been NASA’s strong suit, though. Well, at least not since the last time we set foot on the moon. NASA Space Tags 5:20 Pence’s speech echoed overtones of the Cold War tensions that drove NASA to achieve the original Apollo 11 moon landing on schedule 50 years ago this July. Pence said we’re in the midst of another space race, citing China’s recent landing on the far side of the moon and saying that it “revealed their ambition to seize the strategic lunar high ground.” He also mentioned the reliance on Russian rockets to send American astronauts to orbit over the past decade, something the agency hopes to bring to an end with new spacecraft designed by SpaceX, Boeing and NASA itself. “The first woman and the next man on the moon will both be American astronauts, launched by American rockets from American soil.” Now playing: Watch this: Share your voice 9 BIG NEWS: President Trump and @VP Pence have directed @NASA to return astronauts to the Moon in the next 5 years.Challenge accepted. Now let’s get to work.https://t.co/MjcDSG6NLc pic.twitter.com/QqYofbKzOe— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) March 26, 2019 NASA’s bid to get humans back to the moon The second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, as photographed by the first, Neil Armstrong, who’s reflected in Aldrin’s visor. NASA At a meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence challenged NASA to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, moving up the agency’s timeline for a return to the lunar surface. “What we need now is urgency,” Pence said during a speech to a crowd at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “It is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years.” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, appointed by President Donald Trump, later accepted the challenge, calling it “right on time.” “NASA is going to do everything in its power to meet that deadline,” Bridenstine said. Bridenstine’s Twitter account also sent out a link to NASA’s Moon to Mars page that still listed 2028 as the target for putting new boots on the lunar surface. The page has since been revised to show the new 2024 target for astronauts on the moon. Sci-Tech Comments
Share Laura Skelding: O’Rourke/Douglas Young: CruzU.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso (left), and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.When U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced his latest fundraising haul earlier this month – a stunning $6.7 million – it was widely expected to surpass what his rival, Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, brought in over the same period. Now it’s clear by how much: roughly $3.5 million.Cruz raised $3.2 million in the first three months of this year, according to his campaign. He also will report having $8.2 million on hand.O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat, did not outpace just Cruz – he posted one of the top quarterly federal fundraisers ever, outside of presidential campaigns. Along with the sheer size of his fundraising, O’Rourke’s campaign has also drawn attention for eschewing support from political action committees.O’Rourke announced his fundraising numbers earlier this month. Outside of O’Rourke’s large sum, Cruz’s fundraising would be considered robust for any incumbent seeking re-election.Since his plans to vacate his U.S. House seat in a bid to unseat Cruz a year ago, O’Rourke has frequently outpaced Cruz on the hard-dollar fundraising front. But Cruz also has a network of aligned groups that will spend on his behalf in the race. He is also expected to have massive super PAC support in the fall while O’Rourke has publicly asked super PACs to not help him in the race. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994. But O’Rourke’s campaign has excited Democrats around the country, in part due to his ability to draw large crowds around Texas, including in some conservative strongholds.Yet the enthusiasm behind O’Rourke’s bid remains perplexing to some national political observers. While repeatedly outraising an incumbent helps a challenger signal that their campaign in viable, most political insiders say privately if not publicly that Cruz remains in a strong position to win re-election.