The “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition” pre-screening reception Tuesday at the Air and Space Museum was about as D.C. nerdy as you can get: a sea of people in suits wearing various pins to denote their government agencies filling the lobby of the Smithsonian institution.
Chitchat among the crowd — which comprised primarily D.C. bigwigs such as Kellyanne Conway and science-y hotshots such as National Space Council Executive Director Scott Pace — consisted of space commerce and grants. Bill Nye, signature bow tie and all, was there as the hot-ticket celeb. Secret Service were as plentiful as the grilled shrimp hors d’oeuvres.
The documentary may have been the focus of the evening, but the main attraction was really Vice President Pence, who delivered remarks before the screening and declared his adoration for all things American and interstellar.
Apparently, Pence really likes space — so much so that he claims he and second lady Karen Pence once went on a family vacation to Cape Canaveral just to take their kids to see the rockets.
Standing at an official podium with the Apollo lunar module behind him, Pence declared that Trump’s dedication to space exploration will result in the museum needing “to build a new wing,” and said the president is “committed to securing American leadership on earth and in the boundless expanse of space.”
Various lawmakers who were in attendance, such as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, gave the thumbs up as Pence, along with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, discussed a new budget amendment that will help provide additional funding for space exploration.
“The United States will once again send American astronauts into space on American rockets from American soil,” Pence said to applause from the audience. “The next man and first woman on the moon will be Americans.”