President Obama's budget proposal released this week gives NASA's Glenn Research Center in Brook Park a boost in 2014 over last year's allocation. That's cause for optimism about the Center's future, says its Director. But as ideastream's Bill Rice reports, there's worry that continuing Congressional battles and the federal sequester could bring some of NASA Glenn's work to a halt.
The President's budget gives NASA as a whole 17.7 billion dollars in 2014, about the same as it received in 2012. Of that, 684 million is allocated to Glenn - a 36 million dollar increase.
Broken down by what NASA terms missions, the itemized NASA Glenn budget shows gains and losses. The biggest gain - 86 million dollars - goes to space technology. That includes two important programs - Cryogenic propellent storage and transfer, which will will contribute to the development of commercial space flight, and solar electric propulsion, which will be used to capture small asteroids and deliver them into earth or moon orbit where they can be studied. Glenn Director James Free:
FREE: "We're very proud that Glenn technologies on the cryogenic side and the solar electric side have been recognized by the agency - and rightfully so. We have that expertise here."
Under the budget proposal Glenn will take losses in its Aeronautics, Education, Science and space operations missions.
The president's budget is, of course, just a proposal and could be changed by Congress.
Overhanging what Free considers positive news is the federal sequestration - those mandatory across the board federal cuts intended to force a budget compromise in Congress. NASA has already take a billion dollar hit just this year, Free says.
FREE: "you don't drop a billion dollars without having an impact. We don't understand how bad the impact will be right now, because we don't know the amount, but if it's on the order of what we saw this year, that just puts a lot of our programs in doubt and we're going to have to decide what are we going to stop doing."
Neither Free nor Chief Financial Officer Larry Sivic would specify how SPECIFIC projects would be affected.