Bloomberg - Are you a robot? Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. will return astronauts to the moon within five years “by any means necessary,” possibly using commercial rockets, challenging China for dominance in space. “The first woman and the next man on the moon will both be American astronauts launched by American rockets from American soil,” Pence said Monday at a meeting of the National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama. The U.S. and China are in a race to explore Mars and beyond as the two powers compete for economic, technological and military superiority. After becoming the first country to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon last year, China is planning four more missions to return samples to earth before studying the feasibility of a lunar research base. The U.S. is the only nation to land an astronaut on the moon but hasn’t performed the feat since 1972. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration no longer has rockets capable of making the trip, and a new moon program begun under President George W. Bush was subsequently canceled by President Barack Obama over cost concerns. “Conventional wisdom says we’ll need more time” to get U.S. astronauts to the moon, Pence said. He added that if the only way to achieve it is with commercial rockets, “then commercial rockets it will be.” The Trump administration will ask Congress for resources, but “mission success will require more than just money,” Pence said. NASA must “transform itself into a leaner, more agile,” agency, he said. And if NASA is unable to reach the moon by 2025, he said, then “we need to change the organization, not the mission.” NASA’s current budget is about $21.5 billion, while China’s annual space spending is about $8 billion. China plans to launch the Chang’e-5 probe to the moon later this year, with three more in the offing, Wu Yanhua, vice administrator of the China National Space Administration, said in January. At least two of them will land on the moon’s south pole and conduct research, he said. President Donald Trump, Pence said, told NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to get people to the moon “by any means necessary.” “Urgency must be our watchword,” Pence said.