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Government investing $882 million in Ohio's NASA operations

By Andy Ouriel • Mar 28, 2019 at 4:00 PM

PERKINS TWP. — NASA’s budget keeps skyrocketing to new heights, which, in turn, both safeguards and fortifies testing at its Plum Brook Station in Erie County.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump backed a proposed federal budget calling for NASA to receive a record $21 billion. The budget cycle covers a period spanning Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020.

From the $21 billion, about $882 million funnels into the NASA Glenn Research Center, an Ohio-based federal space testing organization with campuses in Cleveland and Sandusky, known as Plum Brook. The $882 million represents a 23 percent increase compared to last year’s figure, $712 million.

More specifically, the funding ensures groundbreaking experiments at Plum Brook can continue, including for:

Orion, the initiative aimed to carry astronauts into deep space by 2021 and possibly land on Mars sometime afterward

Electric-powered airplanes in hopes of creating more energy-efficient and environmentally conscious aircraft

• Rocket testing; Plum Brook houses the world’s only chamber capable of testing full-scale, upper-stage vehicles and rocket engines under high-altitude and space-like conditions.

“The proposed amount for NASA’s Glenn Research Center, at both Lewis Field and Plum Brook Station, contains funding that will sustain our staffing and maintenance for our world-class test facilities,” said Larry Sivic, NASA Glenn’s chief financial officer. “Specific testing requirements and timing of those activities are still being finalized. The testing capabilities available at Plum Brook Station are integral, from both a NASA and commercial standpoint, to venturing beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and finally to Mars.”

Making sense of the dollars and cents

The breakdown of NASA Glenn Research Center’s federal budget in recent years:

Year*  Budget

2020     $882 million

2019     $712 million

2018     $655 million

2017     $598 million

Note: Fiscal year represents a 12-month period running from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. For instance, Fiscal Year 2020 covers Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020.

Source: NASA

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