Vice President Pence visiting Rocket City

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Vice President Mike Pence is making his way to the Rocket City.

Pence will be in Huntsville on Tuesday, March 26th to chair the next meeting of the National Space Council at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

"For the past several weeks, our special operations division has been working on an operations plan to ensure the safety of everyone involved in this visit," Huntsville Police Lt. Michael Johnson said.

The trip is part of the president's renewed focus of manned space flight. Last month, Congress approved a NASA budget of nearly $22 billion; much of that work is happening behind the scenes in Huntsville.

"It reflects on the importance of the community and the contributions they've made to the space program," former NASA shuttle astronaut Dr. Sandra Magnus said.

Magnus says Tuesday will be more than a high profile meet and greet in Huntsville. The vice president is expected to give a speech in which he'll give guidelines to NASA and the space council for future missions. So does that mean we'll get a date for putting a man or woman on Mars? Magnus said, 'don't hold your breath.'

"It's important that we first go to the Moon and kind of get our act together first and understand our technology is working operationally and we have a good paradigm. I think that's the first step. I wouldn't expect a Mars date," Magnus said.

Magnus will give one of two presentations to the vice president called, "Ready to Fly" and "Ready to Explore", which will highlight the current status of the upcoming Space Launch System and Orion rockets.

"We're going to go from eight years of no human space flight to a multiplicity of ways humans can engage in space from US soil, so I think that's very exciting," Magnus said.

The meeting will be held in the Saturn V Hall of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center around 12:00 p.m.

Huntsville police say they expect once the motorcade arrives and departs, commuters will be stopped a few minutes on I-565.

Traffic is expected to be affected between 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.-3:00 pm.

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