Ohio, region supporting major role in moon shoot, national defense

Wright-Patterson’s NASIC called ‘a real Ohio gem’ during opening remarks by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Ohio companies are playing a major role in supporting the NASA Artemis project, the nation’s renewed return to the moon.

“The road to space definitely travels through here for sure,” said Pamela Melroy, NASA deputy administrator, adding more than 60 Ohio companies are aiding in the American moon shot.

Melroy was one of several speakers at the third annual Ohio Space Forum at the NASA Glenn Research Center near Cleveland that also emphasized the Dayton region’s continuing contribution to national defense.

Terry Slaybaugh, JobsOhio vice president for sites and infrastructure, said Ohio is blessed with a strong technical pipeline, with more than 30 companies setting up shop in Ohio from the coasts and elsewhere in recent months.

“Our research and development base is extraordinary,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a video message, with DeWine particularly calling out the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which he called: “a real Ohio gem.”

Col. Maurizio Calabrese, the commander of NASIC, has recently been nominated and confirmed for his first star as an Air Force brigadier general.

Calabrese leads more than 4,000 professionals who work to learn more about the air and space weapons national adversaries are developing.

“It’s an amazing, classified mission. It is a very special place, and it is here in Ohio,” Calabrese told listeners at NASA Glenn.

Great power competition has been extended once again into space, with China and Russia creating space weapons, preparing for space warfare and sending out satellites, whose number has doubled since 2018.

That’s especially dangerous since international norms have not kept pace with the fast-moving technology, the NASIC commander said. Many satellites support a growing number of civilian purposes.

“War in space affects everyone, not just military forces,” Calabrese said.

NASIC is focused on its own array of emerging technologies, often with NASA, he said.

Doug Wheelock, a retired Army colonel and NASA astronaut speaking on camera from training in Colorado, said future astronauts may find themselves training on Air Force Research Laboratory “disorientation” equipment. AFRL is based at Wright-Patterson.

Joe Zeis, a retired Air Force colonel and DeWine’s senior advisor for aerospace and defense, said critical work to solve space and aerospace problems is happening across Ohio.

“Each one of these dots represents critical manufacturing development,” Zeis said, referring to a map he showed of Ohio military and defense installations, dots that spread across the Buckeye State from Cincinnati to Cleveland.

With about 3,000 people directly employed, NASA Glenn has an approximately $2 billion economic impact, impacting some 9,000 jobs overall.

“This institution and its visibility are critical,” Zeis said, referring to NASA Glenn.

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