NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland Jan. 17 to view progress on the advanced space propulsion technologies the center is developing to carry cargo and American astronauts further into space than ever before.
"The work going on here at Glenn is an essential part of NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission, and by investing in this technology NASA is addressing risks that the nation's aerospace industries cannot," Bolden said. "This is a great example of a win-win for both NASA and the nation's technical capability."
Glenn Center Director Jim Free guided Bolden, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Marcia Kaptur, both of Ohio, on a tour of Glenn’s Electric Propulsion Laboratory, which houses a large space environment simulation chamber. The chamber is being enhanced for future testing of solar electric propulsion technologies, including those supporting NASA’s proposed asteroid initiative, which involves identifying, capturing and relocating an asteroid for astronauts to explore.
"The advanced space propulsion technologies that will one day help humans land safely on an asteroid are just some of the remarkable discoveries being made at Glenn," Kaptur said. "It is my hope that this visit will give Mr. Bolden more data about the importance of Glenn's role in future missions and the agency's direction."
Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) serves two critical functions: it provides the low thrust, long duration "push" needed to deflect an asteroid, coupled with the versatility of changing a spacecraft's trajectory after launch. SEP also is a critical technology that can be scaled up to cost effectively send cargo and astronauts to Mars.
"The agency's asteroid initiative represents an unprecedented technological challenge that will lead to new scientific discoveries and technological capabilities that will help protect our home planet and achieve the goal of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025," Bolden added. "And NASA's path to capturing and exploring an asteroid runs through Glenn Research Center."
Later this year, NASA and its commercial partners will mark another milestone in industry partnerships when it tests at Glenn the large solar array system to demonstrate the structural integrity of large array designs that one day will support advanced SEP.
“Glenn Research Center is an important reason why NASA is a global leader in advanced technology," Brown added. "Ohio has a proud history of innovation and NASA Glenn’s asteroid and de-icing work continue that tradition. Not only does this research and technology make the world safer, it advances what mankind is capable of achieving.”
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