Vice President Mike Pence has had a lot to say about space recently.
From announcing the reestablishment of the National Space Council with him as the head, to congratulating and welcoming NASA’s newest class of astronauts, Pence has been spending a lot of time talking about NASA and American spaceflight.
With all that talk of space exploration, it makes sense that some of the same themes would keep coming up in multiple speeches, but Pence has taken it a step further.
The vice president has told the same bizarre story using almost the same language in his two major space speeches since the administration has been in office.
Here’s the story when he told it on June 7 during NASA’s astronaut selection event (emphasis added):
I have no doubt that my son, who is now a Marine Corps aviator himself, was actually inspired to put on the uniform and to get in the cockpit from that one day that we sat in the grandstands when he was 10 years old at the Kennedy Space Center and watched with awe as America’s heroic astronauts hurled into the heavens. I remember I said at the time and have thought ever since that to see a launch, especially at night at Cape Canaveral, it’s like seeing the Earth giving birth to a piece of the sun and sending it home. The courage of these men and women and all the astronauts who have gone before inspires me to this very day.
And here’s the same story during his speech at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday:
I really have no doubt that my son, who is now a Marine Corps aviator, was inspired to serve as a 10-year-old boy when we sat in the grandstands here at the Kennedy Space Center and watched in awe as America’s heroic astronauts hurtled into space. I said at the time, that to see the sights and sounds of a launch at here Cape Canaveral was like seeing the Earth giving birth to a piece of the sun and sending it home. And you’re the ones who make it possible.
Sure, it sounds poetic, but it’s also maybe one of the oddest ways to describe a rocket launch that I’ve ever heard. Rocket launches are a lot of things — loud, impressive, gorgeous — but I don’t think I’ve ever thought, “oh man, that rocket launch is a lot like childbirth.”
Maybe Pence and his speechwriters keep using the phrase precisely because they don’t have anything new to say about space, at least not yet.
All of Pence’s NASA-related speeches are filled with platitudes about how President Donald Trump has big plans to make America’s space program “first in the world again,” but he has effectively provided zero details on any specific policy goals. Also, neither Pence or Trump has offered any evidence that NASA has been eclipsed as the preeminent space agency in the world.
Perhaps at some point Pence will decide to retire the story when, you know, he has something real to say about America’s future in space.