SpaceX and Blue Origin could gain from Mike Pence's call for a return to the moon

Friday, 13 October 2017, 04:56:26 PM. Vice President Mike Pence called for the U.S. to return to the moon and use that as a steppingstone to Mars, which could be a boon for commercial space companies.

Vice President Mike Pence, in his role as chairman of the newly reconstituted National Space Council, called Thursday for the U.S. to return to the moon. That could be lucrative for commercial space companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin.

Pence said the council’s objectives include laying groundwork for the U.S. to maintain a constant commercial, human presence in low-Earth orbit, as well as sending American astronauts back to the moon.

The moon presence not only would “leave behind footprints and flags,” but also serve as a steppingstone for future human missions to Mars and beyond, he said.

Last week, SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk gave more details of the Hawthorne space firm’s plans to reach Mars. Musk described a large, fully reusable rocket and spaceship system called BFR that eventually would replace SpaceX’s current line of rockets and spacecraft.

To help pay for development of BFR, Musk said the system could be used for missions closer to home, as well as to transport large numbers of people to colonize the Red Planet.

One of those closer missions Musk suggested was to help establish a base on the moon. Musk said lunar surface missions could be done with BFR without propellent production on the moon.

“It’s 2017,” Musk said during his speech at a space conference in Australia. “I mean, we should have a lunar base by now.”

Company President Gwynne Shotwell attended the National Space Council meeting Thursday and talked about aspirations to reach the moon.

The Jeff Bezos-led space firm Blue Origin also has announced plans for Blue Moon, a lunar cargo transport service. Blue Origin Chief Executive Bob Smith said Thursday that the transport system could be developed within the next five years and that the company was willing to invest alongside NASA to make it happen.

Smith also spoke about Blue Origin’s plans to take paying tourists into space, noting the company expects to launch humans within the next 18 months.

While a return to the moon has been periodically revisited, the mention by the National Security Council adds a “certain kind of official seal on activities that the U.S. may pursue,” said Phil Smith, space industry analyst at Bryce Space and Technology.

“It just helps to add a little more momentum to the cause,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting was the first in almost 25 years for the council. The idea of a space advisory group first emerged during the Eisenhower administration. The council in its more current form was established by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 to advise the president on civil, commercial and military space issues. It was discontinued during the Clinton administration and resurrected this year by President Trump.

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Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

spacex-and-blue-origin-could-gain-from-mike-pence-and-apos;s-call-for-a-return-to-the-moon photo 2 CAPTION

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

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Over 160,000 acres have been destroyed in northern California fires.

Over 160,000 acres have been destroyed in northern California fires.

spacex-and-blue-origin-could-gain-from-mike-pence-and-apos;s-call-for-a-return-to-the-moon photo 4 CAPTION

The death toll from the Northern California fires has reached 17. A wounded Mandalay Bay security guard warned hotel officials about a gunman before the Las Vegas massacre. Harvey Weinstein is facing more sexual assault and harassment allegations. The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to expand. 

The death toll from the Northern California fires has reached 17. A wounded Mandalay Bay security guard warned hotel officials about a gunman before the Las Vegas massacre. Harvey Weinstein is facing more sexual assault and harassment allegations. The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to expand. 

spacex-and-blue-origin-could-gain-from-mike-pence-and-apos;s-call-for-a-return-to-the-moon photo 5 CAPTION

A Northern California firestorm is one of the worst in state history, officials say. The Dodgers are heading to the NLCS after beating the Diamondbacks Monday night. Police have dramatically changed their account of how the Las Vegas massacre began. The Los Angeles Times has named a new editor in chief. 

A Northern California firestorm is one of the worst in state history, officials say. The Dodgers are heading to the NLCS after beating the Diamondbacks Monday night. Police have dramatically changed their account of how the Las Vegas massacre began. The Los Angeles Times has named a new editor in chief. 

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A wind-fed wildfire surged over the Anaheim Hills on Monday, burning several homes and forcing thousands to evacuate as fire crews struggled to battle the rapidly growing blaze.

A wind-fed wildfire surged over the Anaheim Hills on Monday, burning several homes and forcing thousands to evacuate as fire crews struggled to battle the rapidly growing blaze.

samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

Twitter: @smasunaga

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Article SpaceX and Blue Origin could gain from Mike Pence's call for a return to the moon compiled by www.latimes.com