NASA Administrator Says Glenn Research Center Future Is Bright
At a time when any President can change the entire direction of NASA, the Glenn Research Center received good news Wednesday from the agency’s new administrator.
Jim Bridenstine spent this week touring NASA’s Ohio facilities at Plum Brook in Sandusky and Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, and he says, they both have a bright future.
President Trump wants to go back to the moon and stay there a while with an orbiting space station, Gateway. The Glenn Center's work on electric power, Bridenstine says, fits in well with the president’s goals.
“Solar electric power, of course, is being advanced and developed and matured right here at Glenn,” said Bridenstine. “So you look at all these capabilities and technologies, you look at the president’s vision for space, going back to the moon, going sustainably, utilizing the resources of the moon - there is a bright future for NASA Glenn. There is a bright future for Plum Brook.”
Bridenstine says trips to the moon will allow systems to be tested and refined, paving the way for a longer trip to Mars someday.
NASA's Ion Propulsion System Lead Daniel Herman points out an ion thruster in place for testing inside a vacuum chamber. [Mark Urycki / ideastream]
Trump’s budget had called for eliminating climate science satellite programs at NASA, but Congress funded those projects anyway. Bridenstine says NASA will continue to study the earth.
“Republicans and Democrats alike - both sides of the aisle - we are all committed to making sure that we understand earth,” said the former congressman. “This is the only planet that we know to host life. We can debate and argue about what we learn, but everybody knows that we need to know what’s happening to the planet.”
On Saturday, NASA launched ICESat-2, a satellite that will study the earth’s ice sheets and glaciers. Bridenstine says it’s important to study the melting ice caps because the Russians are now able to move ships and troops in the Artic where they previously could not.
“The earth is changing – we all know that.”
NASA Glenn Director Dr. Janet Kavandi and NASA Administrator James Bridenstine. [Mark Urycki / ideastream]
In June, the president called for a military Space Force, but the NASA administrator says the agency is involved in science, not defense or security. Still, he supports the idea of a Space Force to protect U.S. assets in space, noting that American life - from banking to agriculture - depend on satellites.
“NASA’s challenge is we have hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of assets in orbit that, quite frankly, could be at risk,” said Bridenstin. “And we have humans on the international space station.”
In Congress, the Republican from Oklahoma voted to fund a Space Force as an extension of the Air Force.
“We’ve got potential adversaries around the world that are launching direct ascent, anti-satellite missiles, co-orbital anti-satellite capabilities. Think of a satellite flying in formation with another satellite. Dazzling, hacking, jamming, spoofing, all these technologies proliferating around the world and our society is dependent on space.”
Bridenstine will fly to Russia next month to meet with his counterpart, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.