Yet Pence's yard planting ceremony may also be a metaphor for the Trump administration's ambitious plan to bring Americans back to the moon within five years: May is a true threatening to dry in spring.
Congress has not found the extra $ 30 billion effort it expects to make, and Democrats who control the House are worried that other NASA programs will suffer from what they have denied being rejected as a political stunt. The space program is also unlikely to top the list of priorities for lawmakers who have broken the passage of government bills and run an impeachment investigation into the coming election year.
The uncertainty of reaching the moon's goal became a mast on Friday when former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, was invited to make some comments. An attendee of the event, breathing deeply, privately expressed concern about what would be the unlucky veteran of Apollo 11, who was notorious for not always following a script .
"I have great faith in … Artemis," Aldrin told the gathering, referring to NASA's attempt to send humans to the moon . to send people to the moon.
"I think maybe these people, SpaceX, their Starship, could put only a few people on the moon before Artemis did," Aldrin said, adding that NASA should also work closer to other rockets are companies like Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance.
President Donald Trump made space exploration and development of a leading policy instrument . to attract more private investment in the space, including encouraging a historic number of public-private partnerships to reach the moon.
But most of the push depends on NASA. care and feeding t hat is necessary to support the effort.
The government is funded under a continuing resolution running until November 21. If the partisan struggle makes funding bills and Congress impossible a year-long resolution ] that locked in funding levels last year NASA is "really in danger of losing by 2024," said Scott Pace, the executive secretary of the recently revived National Science Council, which chairs Pence.
Although Congress passed the bills, the leading House appropriator for NASA was not on board with the goal of 2024.
"Why does it need to suddenly accelerate the clock by four years – the time it takes to can a successful program be developed from a science and safety perspective? " Rep. Jose Serrano (DN.Y.), chairman of the House subcomm Committee that funded NASA, said at a hearing last month. "To many members, the motivation appears to be just a political one, giving President Trump a moon landing in a possible second term, should he be re-elected." only $ 22.32 billion, excluding additional funding for the administration's lunar ambitions.
The Senate-approved budget plan would provide NASA with most but not all of the $ 1.6 billion additional money it asked for in the new year as payment for the estimated $ 30 billion effort would eventually cost.
"Even though Washington, D.C. is fully functioning I think it's a difficult sell," said Phil Larson, a former space adviser for President Barack Obama.
He said the Apollo program during the Cold War space race with the Soviet Union was of national importance. "If you talk to the American public right now, this may not be a national need for most Americans."
Trump's top advisor space acknowledges the challenge. "How much can we grow NASA's topline and how much can we moderate but not harm other parts of the NASA portfolio that people feel very dedicated to?" Pace said in an interview. "That's the hard part. They want to make sure we don't go to other parts of the budget just to go exploring."
But even when working on such an ambitious goal dominated the space program, he argues, saying that NASA is getting in shape to bring humans back to lower-orbit Earth for the first time since 1972.
"If we miss 2024 – which I don't recognize – we're still building of a capability, which will benefit future administrations and countries. "Pace said.
But with less than a year until the 2020 election, it's unclear what will happen to these priorities under a Democratic president.
Pace thinks that whatever the White House embraces broader goals that align with American interests. "We can change labels and talk about margin details," he said, "but the overall reason for moving beyond the space of space, keeping the partners and commercial people involved and going on the moon, I'm pretty confident I can survive. "
Planting the new age of the space was clear where Pence was focused on Friday's tree planting. POLITICO and a Scholastic News" kid reporter "were the only media invited to attend.
The tree grew from a seed harvested from one of the original moon-derived trees that flew through space in 1972 with Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa, who had previously fought wildfires along "The U.S. Forest Service.
" You may need to put some seeds together, "the vice president noted." I think we also need to make plans to restore the seeds from Mars. "