Why he's interesting ... Thirty-five years after starting out as an intern at Kennedy Space Center, Lugo recently became the first Hispanic director at NASA Glenn Research Center in Brook Park. From the Galileo spacecraft to vehicles designed to take astronauts beyond Earth's orbit, he's worked on just about every type of project NASA could throw at one man. Now he works to strengthen Glenn's infrastructure to attract important projects to the center, which hasn't had a $100-million-a-year project in 10 years.
Out of this world ... The center is focused on new projects such as an exploration module that could be carrying astronauts on missions outside Earth's orbit, possibly to other planets, within five to six years. "We're working on a myriad of aeronautics involving reducing fuel burn of engines to make them cleaner and quieter." They are also developing a new radio transmitter called "connect" that could eliminate the need for multiple radios on space voyages because it transmits on multiple frequencies.
All in the family ... Lugo is the son of a NASA contractor. "I'm a second-generation space brat. My father followed the space program all over the U.S." His favorite project - Galileo. "It was the first big space mission I worked on and the first time I got to work with NASA Glenn also. Now, 21 years later and I'm leading the organization I worked with."
Most interesting person he's met ... John Aaron, the NASA engineer portrayed in the 1995 movie Apollo 13 who thought up a risky but successful method to ration the disabled spacecraft's limited power supply so it was able to return safely to Earth.
His favorite space movies ... Apollo 13 and 2001: A Space Odyssey On the Big Bang Theory - "I'd have to defer to the fact that it's a valid theory." As for the show? "I've only seen it once, but I thought it was pretty funny."
On alien life ... "If you're asking, •Do I believe in little green men?,' I'd say no. But, I find it hard to believe that we're alone with all the planets out there."
Space travel ... "I would like to go to Mars because it's the only other planet in our solar system that might support human life. I wouldn't want to go somewhere I couldn't live."