NASA Ames testing system for mission to moon, Trump requests boost in budget

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- President Trump has delivered his next year's budget to Congress, which includes a 12% increase to help support NASA's mission to the moon and Mars.

One beneficiary will be the 3,000 employees at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field.

The engineers there are deeply immersed in testing the materials for the space launch system or SLS.

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They subject a model of the SLS to winds that can reach close to 2,000 miles per hour in a nine by seven foot supersonic wind tunnel. The model is covered with pressure-sensitive paint. The test produces color-coded visualizations to show where the model is enduring low or high pressure. Fluctuations can lead to instability or damage to the payload. The data is transferred to a supercomputer for analysis at the Marshall Flight Center in Alabama.

"The benefits of sharing, putting this data on the supercomputers that, they can log on and see the results once we've produced them and ask for changes, and we can have a turnaround of next day it's ready for them to look at new changes," said Nettie Roozeboom, an aerospace space and principal investigator.

The model is embedded with 300 tiny microphones costing $2,000 each.

With the clock ticking to land on Mars in four years, Congress is being asked to boost NASA's next budget by $3 billion to $25 billion.

NASA Ames will benefit from the $25 billion being budgeted for the next fiscal year.

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However, how much will it cost to get to the moon and then to Mars?

The director of NASA Ames, Dr. Eugene Tu, projects the Artemis project could cost $35 billion.

"Now that's to get us back to the moon and also eventually sustainably to the moon," he said. "It shouldn't require that much of an increase, but it's going to be a substantial investment, especially to meet the timelines the administration has asked us to meet."

A key goal is to find ice on the moon that could provide water and even fuel to support deep space missions.
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