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Health & Science

NASA Glenn Gearing Up for a Return to the Moon

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DAVID C. BARNETT
/
WCPN
NASA Glenn Space Flight Systems Director Bryan Smith

The Trump administration proposed a $21 billion budget for NASA Monday, which is a half-billion less than NASA officials were hoping for.  Under the proposal, $882 million would go to Cleveland's Glenn Research Center

Among the federal space agency's goals is a return of astronauts to the surface of the moon in the next five years. The last time astronauts set foot on the lunar surface was in 1972.  The new budget puts an emphasis on returning within the next five years on a more permanent basis.  Proposed projects for NASA Glenn include extracting resources from the dusty soil, developing the next generation of rover tires, and a nuclear energy lab to provide power for living and working on the moon. Glenn Space Flight Systems director Bryan Smith said it's all about sustainability.

"To be able to go and stay and build on that with the resources that are there, and to develop the economies that come from that, I think that's where the real pay-off is," Smith said. 

"I think the difference this time is that we're there to stay," Smith said. "So, we're not just touching down and leaving, we're creating a presence in the area which others can then be part of. And I mean others meaning international partners, commercial partners, and the space economy."

Smith said the ultimate aim of these efforts is to use the moon as a proving ground for sending astronauts to Mars someday.