Hello, Up There! Vice President Phones Space Station Astronauts

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence spoke with three NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station during his visit to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Monday (Sept. 25).

Pence asked NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik, the space station's current commander, and Mark Vande Hei and Joseph Acaba, who both arrived two weeks ago, about what it's like to be in space. He also queried the astronauts on their best advice for kids who dream of spaceflight and how their work in orbit advances U.S. leadership in space.

"The president and I, and every American, sees each one of you as true trailblazers in a great American tradition," Pence told the space station astronauts. "You may not be aware, but the president asked me to chair a restart of the National Space Council, and I want to assure each one of you that the National Space Council [is] looking to build on the historic work that you're building on today. [See More Photos of Pence's Visit to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center]

"We're just really honored to speak to three courageous Americans who are such an essential part of NASA's mission today," Pence added. The National Space Council is set to meet for the first time in a few weeks, he said, adding that the council will work to put the United States at the forefront of space exploration.

Vice President Mike Pence (right) and Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama speak with NASA astronauts Joe Acaba, Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei on the International Space Station from the Payload Operations Integration Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama on Sept. 25, 2017. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

During his trip to Marshall, Pence visited the facility where engineers are working on engines for the Space Launch System (SLS), a megarocket that will be powerful enough to send humans beyond low-Earth orbit, where the space station circles, to the moon and Mars. He also stopped at the Payload Operations Integration Center, which manages the research on the space station.

"Today, I met pioneers who are helping America travel into the unknown and expand our knowledge for the benefit of the nation," Pence said in a statement. "I'm inspired by the people at Marshall, and NASA as a whole, who are passionate and dedicated to space exploration. The massive hardware and innovative technologies we are building will propel us far beyond our home planet and allow America to lead in space again."

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Sept. 26 and spoke to the astronauts on the International Space Station. (Image credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA)

Pence also visited the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, where Army leaders briefed him on missile defense projects, according to the statement.

"The work underway today at Marshall, supporting station science and with the SLS, is integral to ensuring this nation's incredible global leadership in human exploration," Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator, said in the statement. "Vice President Pence now has personally visited three NASA centers in the last four months, and I deeply appreciate the vice president's strong commitment to our space-exploration mission."

Email Sarah Lewin at slewin@space.com or follow her @SarahExplains. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com

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Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for Space.com in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.