Enlarge / Vice President Mike Pence addresses NASA employees on Thursday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (credit: NASA)
As he continues to visit key space facilities around the country, Vice President Mike Pence spent a few hours at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday.

During the visit, Pence spoke to the NASA workforce inside the iconic Vertical Assembly Building and, for the most part, gave his stump speech in which he and President Trump vow to restore US leadership in space.
Within the remarks, which mentioned “leadership” 18 times, there were a few nuggets of news.

The recently announced National Space Council will convene for its first meeting before the end of summer, Pence said.

And he also offered a few more specifics about his overall goal for NASA’s exploration program. “Our nation will return to the Moon, and we will put American boots on the face of Mars,” he said.
It was not clear whether Pence intends for humans to return to the lunar surface. Most likely, not too much should be read into this statement, as it seems less of a concrete policy proposal and more of a platitude at this time.
What seemed more significant was Pence’s repeated references to “commercial space,” which two Republican sources indicated to Ars essentially referred to the kind of contracting NASA used to fund its commercial cargo and crew programs. Pence seems intent on pushing NASA toward the fixed-price model of contracting, in which the government buys a service—such as launch—from the commercial sector.

This differs from the past, in which NASA might develop a technology, and then pay industry to develop it, or otherwise enter in an agreement where NASA pays for the costs of development, plus a fee.
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