Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump’s point man for space, was scheduled to visit NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., late Sept. 25 to receive an update on the agency’s efforts to send astronauts to deep space.

Pence was expected to see an engine section test for the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket. Boeing [BA] is developing the core stage, which will have four Aerojet Rocketdyne [AJRD] RS-25 engines. NASA plans to begin flight-testing SLS in 2019.

Artist's illustration of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS). Photo: NASA.
Artist’s illustration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). Photo: NASA.

Pence also was slated to tour Marshall’s Payload Operations Integration Center, which manages research on the International Space Station aimed at helping people endure long periods in space.

Pence chairs the National Space Council, which the Trump administration revived in June (Defense Daily, July 6). The council, which had been dormant since 1993, is charged with advising the president on national space policy and strategy and coordinating space policy among various government agencies.

During his Huntsville visit, Pence also planned to visit the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center to receive a briefing on missile defense projects. The Army center and Marshall are both located at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal.