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Vice President Pence challenges NASA to get back to the moon by 2024

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Vice President Mike Pence announced plans on Tuesday to get American astronauts to the moon in the next five years. The goal is four years earlier than NASA had originally planned — that’s a tall order.   

The agency has been under fire for not getting the Space Launch System (SLS) moon rocket ready fast enough.  

Now, Pence is saying if NASA can’t be ready in time, the White House will look for commercial rockets. 

Critics of the plan say it’s too soon and too risky, but some Hoosiers visiting the Children’s Museum’s space exhibit Wednesday said it’s worth the risk. 

“We were the first ones there. We need to keep continuing to push the boundaries and grow our technology not only as the United States but just as a country,” said Nathaniel Justice, museum visitor. “And it’s something I think everybody gets behind. Everybody wants to know what’s out there.”  

While the deadline feels far away, there’s a team of local scientists looking to bring a bit of Indianapolis to the moon in five years.   

Members of IUPUI’s rocket club developed a prototype they say is an example of how to get solar panels to the moon to produce electricity. The club sent it to Washington hoping to get it onto the next rocket.  

“We wanted to show this to the VP, so we built a diorama that shows how these different inventions and processes could be used on the moon to be able to provide an economic benefit for going there,” said Peter Schubert, professor of engineering and technology at IUPUI.

The group hopes the invention will make it to the moon in 2024.