NASA Glenn Will Build the Power System for the Proposed Lunar Orbiting Platform

Feb 13, 2018

NASA Glenn research center has a history in the aeronautics part of NASA's name. The center's $712 million proposed 2019 budget includes research on electrical powered aircraft.
Credit JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

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.

A prominent piece of that lunar exploration plan is being built in Cleveland, as WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports.

NASA Glenn Research Center Director Janet Kavandi says the $712 million allocation for Glenn is the largest in recent years, “and there are exciting projects related to the new rollout of the lunar orbiting platform gateway that we’re actually leading.”

The lunar orbiting platform is being described as the gateway to deep space and possible missions to Mars.

Janet Kavandi is a former astronaut and current director of NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. She says Glenn is building the power system for a proposed lunar orbiting platform that could be launched as soon as 2022.
Credit JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

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.”

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. 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. The education budget at Glenn will go from $3 million to zero next year.