MOUNTAIN VIEW (KCBS) – The Ames Research Center will play an important role in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s future, despite sequestration cuts that have impacted some day to day operations recently, said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
Cutting edge technology such as 3D printers capable of creating almost anything needed for a space mission, and experiments such as a recent one testing how commercially available cell phones might function as satellites assure a bright future for the lab, Bolden said.
“I don’t envision that there is any threat to the existence, future existence, of the Ames Research Center,” he said.
“They’re very active right now in almost everything that we do, whether it’s astrobiology or helping our commercial partners get their spacecraft ready,” he said, “everything from aeronautics, human exploration, science, you name it.”
The space shop buzzed with equipment churning out a miniature satellite as Bolden inspected the Silicon Valley headquarters of NASA on Friday.
Manager Sarah Hovsepian envisioned a future where that same machines would be used in space to make parts for missions.
“We have machines from 3D printers to laser cutters, all types of prototyping tools, you name it,” she said.
Bolden praised the many innovations that have come out of Ames, including technology with very Earthly applications that “support what we call societal needs, the ability to respond to natural disasters.”
Still, the decision by Congress to keep NASA’s overall budget at $16.8 billion has affected how researchers at Ames work, said director Pete Warden.
“We’ve cut a lot of things. We’ve deferred a lot of maintenance. A lot of our buildings are old. We’ve cut a lot of travel. We have mostly scientists and engineers here. They need to go discuss their results. That’s really hurt as well,” he said.
And NASA has not been immune to the sequester cuts.
“So far, we’re weathering it,” Warden said, but he and Bolden
have both called on Congress to give NASA the additional $1 billion President Obama has asked for in next year’s budget.
“It’s really critical next year that the president’s program is enacted, because that will enable us to really go forward,” Warden said.
Bolden has said that some key space missions might have to be delayed or cancelled without more money from Congress.
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