NASA Presents Latest Tech on Capitol Hill

NASA is set to present key space technologies before Capitol Hill lawmakers and staffers as the space agency faces a threat of budget cuts, The Hill reports.

‘NASA Technology Day on the Hill’ featured both its own work and projects from universities partnering with the agency. The agency has held such events before, according to Derek Wang, public outreach manager for the new Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

Wang said the program started off small, with private companies presenting technologies they developed using NASA research, as the event has gradually grown to include broad areas from aeronautics to human exploration.

“It’s about inspiring people and developing technology. I think it’s time in our nation’s history to really push the boundaries again of where our technological capabilities are for space and go ultimately to Mars”, said Chris Cassidy, an active Navy SEAL and NASA astronaut.

Cassidy was the 500th person to fly into space and has spent a total of 182 days in space.

Kelly A. Stephani, a professor at the University of Illinois Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering promoted her work for improving the protection of spacecrafts when they re-enter earth’s atmosphere.

“When we re-enter the atmosphere, the gas and the vehicle gets hot and we need to find ways to protect the vehicle. We work on modeling that system, that whole process”, she said.

Other exhibits included the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer mission, which studies the behavior of neutron stars, and the Satellite Servicing Projects Division, which is working on developing an autonomous craft that can refuel satellites.

NASA has long been in GOP crosshairs for its climate and earth science programs, with the Republicans saying that it should be focused on space exploration.

President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget unveiled in March would cut the agency’s overall budget by 0.8 percent from $19.3 billion to $19.1 billion.

In March, Trump also signed the NASA Transition Authorization Act, giving NASA $19.5 billion for fiscal 2016. NASA had requested $19.1 billion. However, the budget will effectively close NASA’s education office, which will only receive $37 million — a sharp drop from the $100 million it got in previous budgets.

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