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NASA Glenn Gets Budget Boost For New Moon Mission

NASA Glenn Research Center
NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland

NASA’s Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot has announced the agency’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year. The nearly $20 billion spending blueprint focuses on a new mission to the moon, and a prominent piece of that plan is being built in Cleveland.

NASA Glenn Research Center director Janet Kavandi says the $712 million allocation for Glenn is the largest in recent years. It's up from $650 million in 2017.

“And there are exciting projects related to the new rollout of the lunar orbiting platform gateway that we’re actually leading,” she says.

The lunar orbiting platform is being described as the gateway to deep space and possible missions to Mars. But for the near future, NASA is envisioning it as a mini-space station circling the moon that would allow easy access to its surface for future study and even lunar prospecting. 

Kavandi says Glenn is playing a key role in that plan by building the initial component, the station’s power system.

“The first piece of the platform that will be around the moon is that piece that Glenn will develop and lead,” Kavandi says.

It’s an aggressive timeline. NASA hopes to launch the Cleveland built power system by 2022. Kavandi says some of the futuristic concepts she’s budgeting for will focus on the aeronautics part of NASA’s name, including making airplanes more energy-efficient.

“We’re wanting to use more electrified aircraft, more battery power, solar power,” she says. “We’re trying to transform aviation in the same way that the commercial car industry is being transformed.”

One thing NASA will not be doing is teaching the next generation of engineers, though. The education budget at Glenn will go from $3 million to zero next year.