Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center would get $882 million under a budget proposal announced by the Trump administration Monday afternoon. Local researchers are gearing up for a return to the moon.
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.
“I think the difference this time is that we're there to stay,” said Glenn Space Flight Systems director Bryan Smith. “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."
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. 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.
He added that the ultimate aim of these efforts is to use the moon as a proving ground for sending astronauts to Mars someday.