Mars or moon? Moon or Mars?

In the latest flip-flop of national space priorities, Vice President Mike Pence says Barack Obama’s focus on Mars will take a back seat to the moon.

“It’s a return to the vision of President George W. Bush, which was deferred when President Obama reoriented the space agency toward a journey to Mars,” said The Verge.

In a Wall Street Journal piece and a speech Thursday at the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council, Pence said: “We will return NASA astronauts to the Moon — not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation, we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond.”

The Verge noted how NASA has been developing a new rocket and spacecraft — the Space Launch System and Orion — to take astronauts into deep space and onto Mars.

“The current plan is to use these vehicles to build a space station in the vicinity of the Moon, known as the Deep Space Gateway, where astronauts can train and then depart for missions to Mars,” the site said.

“But it’s possible those vehicles could be used to go to the moon’s surface instead. Versions of the SLS rocket and Orion capsule were originally conceived as part of the Constellation program — an effort under Bush to take astronauts to the moon that was canceled by Obama.”

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