Vice President Mike Pence touted the success of President Donald Trump's space policy at the final National Space Council meeting of the administration on Wednesday.
"In four short years, America is leading in space once again," Pence told the National Space Council at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "Whether it's providing for the common defense or growing our space economy across America, that’s what we’ve done throughout the past four years."
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Pence and senior administration officials announced at the meeting that NASA will buy lunar resources for the first time from private companies and revealed the "Artemis Team," 18 astronauts that are slated to lead the next mission to the moon, including the first woman set to do so.
"I know with the caliber of the men and women that have stepped forward with the program Artemis, we’re going to make all-new history," Pence said.
The vice president also announced that a military base will be renamed after the late test pilot Chuck Yeager and that two Air Force bases will be converted into Space Force bases in the years to come.
Pence also warned that competition with Russia and China in space continues to escalate.
"Space is a vacuum, but we aren’t operating in a vacuum when it comes to our national security," Pence said. "The space race that began in the 1950s continues today."
China launched a lunar probe in November and plans to construct its own space station. China and Russia have also built up their arsenal of anti-satellite weapons.
Speaking to these concerns, Pence described the Space Force as a bulwark against Chinese threats. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also said a decision is expected to be made in the coming two months on whether to make the Space Force a part of the intelligence community.
Though the Trump administration has made gains on space policy, concern abounds that progress could slow under President-elect Joe Biden's administration. With little action taken during President Barack Obama’s administration, some experts worry space is due to take a backseat under Biden.
"If we don't get the $3.3 billion in the budget, it gets more and more difficult," warned NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.