I have not been able to find a transcript of US vice president Pence's recent (26-Mar-2019) speech to the US Space Council. This one is from last year.

The phrase By any means necessary carries a substantial legacy and context, especially in US history. Is there any evidence that Pence used this phrase or words that invoked a similar sentiment in yesterday's speech?

Gizmodo: Vice President Pence Gives NASA Five Years to Put Americans Back on the Moon—or Else

President Trump issued the Space Policy Directive 1, calling upon NASA to return astronauts to the Moon, in December 2017. Frustrated with the lack of a concrete plan, as well as budget overruns and delays from the Space Launch System, Pence announced that NASA should attempt to reach the Moon by any means necessary, even if it means using rockets and landers built by private companies.

The Verge: Mike Pence tells NASA to accelerate human missions to the Moon ‘by any means necessary’

Today (26-Mar-2019) at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence declared that the Trump administration is committed to sending humans back to the Moon by 2024, four years earlier than NASA’s previous target of 2028.

Pence, speaking at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, noted that the administration will meet this goal “by any means necessary.” He called on NASA to adopt new policies and argued that the space agency would need to embrace “a new mindset that begins with setting bold goals and staying on schedule.” To do that, he said the administration may consider ditching some of NASA’s current contractors — which are currently developing new vehicles to take humans into deep space — and using commercially developed rockets instead. “If commercial rockets are the only way to get American astronauts to the Moon in the next five years, then commercial rockets it will be,” said Pence. “Urgency must be our watch word.”

[...] However, Pence offered few clear recommendations and changes that would help to accelerate NASA’s return, apart from potentially switching rockets and contractors. “It was rhetoric about ‘by all means possible’ and ‘we’ll provide the resources necessary’ and ‘leadership is essential,’” John Logsdon, a space policy expert at George Washington University, tells The Verge. “I mean, they’re all good words. But the devil’s in the details.”

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    Somehow I don't think Mike Pence is quoting Jean Paul Sartre or Malcolm X.
    – Obie 2.0
    Mar 27, 2019 at 0:51
  • 2
    I kind of can't see the point of the question. I guess it's to inform people of the history behind the phrase. But of course the phrase isn't just used by radicals anymore, and in any case various constructions with "means necessary" in the English language predate Sartre, such that I find it hard to believe you really are wondering about Mike Pence's secret anti-capitalist views or black liberation theology. Especially since the question itself provides ample proof that he did say it.
    – Obie 2.0
    Mar 27, 2019 at 1:03
  • @Obie2.0 except for Pence's boss, US politicians will generally consult closely with speech writers and stick to the prepared and vetted text. A professional speech writer for a US politician will be aware of the context of phrase's place in US history. But let's keep the focus on the question, not on me personally. Mar 27, 2019 at 1:08
  • Sorry, I wasn't trying to criticize you. I just don't feel like the question is all that useful. I feel like the context provides evidence to dispute the idea that Pence's speechwriters were making some kind of point. Is Pence trying to make a subtle anti-racist or anti-capitalist point? Doubtful: he's arguably racist and certainly likes capitalism. Is he insinuating that violence will be acceptable to create the Space Force? I don't think so.
    – Obie 2.0
    Mar 27, 2019 at 1:11
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    "by any means necessary" is also the name of a Babylon 5 episode. Maybe Pence is just a sci-fi fan :)
    – PhillS
    Mar 27, 2019 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


Yes, Pence said the words, but attributes them to President Trump who has a bit more flair for drama than the Vice President (in my opinion). You can find a full transcript on whitehouse.gov. "SLS" below in context refers to Space Launch System. The paragraph occurs about midway through the speech.

But to accomplish this, we must redouble our efforts here in Huntsville and throughout this program. We must accelerate the SLS program to meet this objective. But know this: The President has directed NASA and Administrator Jim Bridenstine to accomplish this goal by any means necessary.

Emphasis added

For those interested, a full length video of the speech is available on YouTube.

  • 3
    @uhoh I presume it was neither, and rather the literal English meaning of the phrase. Mar 27, 2019 at 6:10
  • @eyeballfrog there's no reason it has to be exclusively any one of those, and the "why" is not the question. As I mentioned in here this is an expression with substantial context and that will be known to anyone of Pence's age, and any speechwriter worth their salt would have thought twice before putting it into a speech no matter what the intended meaning might have been. Mar 27, 2019 at 7:00
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    @eyeballfrog For people who interpret things literally, the literal English meaning of the phrase can be a bit troubling. I suspect it was meant more as a figure of speech than to imply extremely drastic measures will be taken.
    – user5155
    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:15

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