The Trump administration will ensure that America leads in space exploration, and the "world will marvel," Vice President Mike Pence told a group of new astronaut candidates Wednesday.
The vice president addressed a group of 12 candidates selected as NASA’s astronaut class of 2017 at Johnson Space Center in Houston Wednesday, which happened to be his birthday. Pence was accompanied by several Republican lawmakers including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
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"Under our administration, NASA will have the resources and support you need to continue to make history to advance American leadership to the boundless frontier of space," Pence said. "Under Donald Trump, America will lead in space once again and the world will marvel."
The White House has its work cut out for it. No nominee has been named for three key posts at NASA, including administrator. Acting administrator Robert Lightfoot attended the ceremony.
Pence also noted the administration will soon re-launch the National Space Council, a group of advisers to the president regarding space policy, which the vice president will chair.
The council was created in 1989 under President George H.W. Bush but was disbanded in 1993 after infighting within the group. Its functions had since been absorbed by the National Science and Technology Council, but President Barack Obama had also pledged to reboot the group.
Pence first mentioned that Trump would re-start the National Space Council during a signing ceremony at the White House on March 21, but it has not yet formed.
The president’s 2018 fiscal budget requested $19.1 million for NASA, a 0.1 percent decrease from the current level. Lightfoot noted when the budget proposal was released that several missions would be discontinued under it along with NASA’s Office of Education, but he called it "a very positive budget."
Pence touted the role of the private sector in space exploration, saying that the country "must have the courage to find answers where we haven’t found them."
"Anything is possible if we have the courage to lead," Pence said.