Vice President Mike Pence made his way around Hampton Roads Wednesday and on the way stopped for a tour and remarks at NASA Langley Research Center.
U.S. Rep Elaine Luria (D-2nd), Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, and Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult were among the crowd that included nearly 500 NASA employees who gathered inside an aircraft hangar on the base in Hampton which Clayton Turner, director of NASA Langley, said was an active laboratory.
Several static aircraft with “NASA” printed on the tails were displayed inside the room where Pence delivered his remarks.
Also the president-appointed chairman of the National Space Council, Pence spoke from a stage with a ceiling-height U.S. flag draped behind him and centered between model satellites and two inflatable globes replicating the Moon and Mars.
Pence opened by saying how impressed he was touring the center’s wind tunnels and observing robotics demonstrations with Turner but the audience was celebratory and enthused as Pence spoke to the president’s active space exploration initiatives within the coming years.
“Once we get back to the moon, as the president said, we’re going to establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars. We are going Moon-to-Mars, and Langley Research Center is going to get us there,” he said.
There was a standing ovation when Pence said the White House didn’t only have a goal to get to the moon and Mars, but as a matter of “mission over means” the administration had recently signed a $25 billion budget for the Langley Research Center and NASA, “the largest budget ever for NASA in the modern era,” he said. (Story continues below the gallery)
Pence also reflected on NASA Langley’s history where he said Neil Armstrong would learn how to land on the moon. He asked the audience to applaud for Hidden Figures Katherine Johnson’s two daughters who watched his speech from the front row.
“And for all that you’ve accomplished here at Langley Research Center…bringing all of the best of America together to do it. It’s really a way that Langley Research Center has inspired the nation in two ways, not just for what you’ve done but for who you are,” he said. (Story continues below the video — Video courtesy by Airman 1st Class John Foister)
Pence shook hands and took selfies with eager audience members before boarding the motorcade to Hampton University’s Proton Therapy Institute where he’d participate in a round table discussion with faculty, students, and patients in the program, according to a White House news release.
Pence was also scheduled to visit with service members at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.
“I really came by today just to say thank you,” he said at the research center. “Thank you for what all of you are doing in this renewed mission for American leadership in space.”