HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - On Monday, the acting administrator for NASA visited Huntsville to deliver the annual State of NASA address. Robert Lightfoot outlined how the president's budget proposal could impact NASA and Marshall Space Flight Center. It was broadcast for the whole country to see.
President Trump's fiscal year 2019 budget proposal provided for $19.9 billion for NASA. "I think that's what you see in this budget. It's a vote of confidence."
Lightfoot, a former director at MSFC, says the proposed budget sets the stage for another giant leap for mankind, putting NASA on a path to return to the moon and Mars.
"You're looking in the early 2020s to have a crew there, a platform around the moon, and in the latter part of the 2020s we'd be exploring on the moon and actually getting ready to go to Mars," he explained.
To move further into deeper space, Lightfoot says the space launch system and Orion spacecraft are critical elements.
With a launch expected in 2020, the SLS is visually coming together.
We took a tour of the facility and saw a robotic arm 'paint' on eight layers of carbon fiber onto a panel that will form the foundation for the payload. The Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter is also nearing completion.
Alison Protz worked on developing the thermal protection system. "The thermal protection system is the foam strips that you see and the strips on the LVSA and it helps protect from aero heating."
A successful Falcon Heavy rocket launch by Space X is continuing healthy competition in the space industry. "I don't see a space race at all. What I see is a lot of capability that's being brought to bear by U.S. industry and there's room for all of us," said Lightfoot.
With new opportunities on the horizon, the sky is no longer the limit.