U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, saying Americans would return to the moon and would set foot on Mars. White House

Will the United States ever send humans back to the moon or to explore Mars? If you ask Vice President Mike Pence, the answer is yes — we will visit those places and more.

Pence gave a speech at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on July 6 in which he called the current moment “the dawn of a new era of space exploration in the United States of America” and repeatedly emphasized his view that President Donald Trump would demonstrate American leadership in space, with the U.S. pushing exploration and discovery forward.

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Spacecraft have landed on Mars and taken trips around the outer solar system, but humans themselves have yet to go any farther than the moon. At the same time, the U.S. remains the only nation to have set foot on Earth’s natural satellite but has not returned since the early 1970s.

According to the vice president, that will change.

“Our nation will return to the moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars,” he said. His remarks went beyond our neighboring planet as well: “We will still go further to places that our children’s children can only imagine. We will maintain a constant presence in low Earth orbit, and we’ll develop policies that will carry human space exploration across our solar system and ultimately into the vast expanse of space.”

Pence said public and private parties working together would make those things happen. “We will continue to make space travel safer, cheaper and more accessible than ever before,” he said.

NASA and other space agencies around the world have worked with private companies toward those goals, although they are in the beginning stages. For example, in a step toward making space travel more sustainable and less expensive, Elon Musk’s SpaceX recently reused a rocket for the first time, after launching it and then landing it vertically in a previous flight. His company has also launched cargo to the International Space Station, on which NASA is just one of many international partners.

Musk is a vocal supporter of sending humans to Mars as well.

Pence’s comments come shortly after Trump announced he was re-launching the National Space Council, a group that will help form the government’s space policy and goals. As he announced the executive order that brought back the dormant council, the president also made repeated remarks about it being a measure that would re-establish American leadership in space. His remarks received some more attention because it appeared that former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, was making exasperated or skeptical faces behind Trump as he spoke.

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During his speech at Kennedy Space Center, Pence expressed support for the newest class of NASA astronauts, saying they will have all of the American people behind them as they head into space.

“We won the [space] race a half century ago and now we will get back to winning, in the 21st century and beyond,” Pence said. “I know in my heart that today the heavens are closer than ever before.”

That comment referred to the race in the 1950s and 1960s between the United States and the Soviet Union to reach space and the moon first, but the U.S., which works as a partner with Russia to send astronauts up to the space station ever since the American shuttle program ended, will have more competition this time around — countries like China and Japan are trying to kick their own space programs into high gear and catch up to the other superpowers, recently announcing projects and goals that will get humans to the moon and to Mars.