Stennis Space Center powering the nation’s dreams of space

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 17, 2015

Fifty-four years ago, President John F. Kennedy challenged this nation to send humans to the moon and return them safely. In July 1969, the nation met that challenge with an Apollo 11 mission powered by rocket engines and stages tested at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi.
Forty-three years ago, President Richard Nixon challenged NASA to build a transportation system to help transform the space frontier. Thus was born the space shuttle, which carried astronauts to low-Earth orbit for 30 years, to build the International Space Station, to launch the Hubble Space Telescope, to engage in research that touches every part of our daily lives. Each one of the 135 space shuttle missions was powered by rocket engines tested at Stennis Space Center.
Five years ago, President Barack Obama called on NASA and this nation to push “the boundaries of humanity’s reach” and return humans to deep space, to explore an asteroid and to journey to Mars. As before, all eyes are turned to Stennis Space Center, where the rocket engines and stages to fulfill that quest will be tested.
Time and time again, this nation has entrusted its space dreams to NASA. Time and again, NASA has designated Stennis Space Center to play a major role in realizing those dreams because of the work performed by the center.
Tomorrow will be no different.
Stennis is already testing RS-25 rocket engines to power the core stage of NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) on its deep-space missions and its journey to Mars. Stennis also will test the SLS core stage to prove it is flightworthy. This is no small responsibility, but one Stennis Space Center has met time after time.
That is not all. Stennis is also taking a lead role in fulfilling the president’s call to enable private companies to make low-Earth space travel easier and more affordable, thus freeing NASA to pursue the nation’s deep-space dreams. In answering that call, companies are turning to Stennis to test rocket engines and components for their commercial flight systems. These include companies that perform Department of Defense missions, as well as those that will supply the International Space Station and eventually carry American astronauts into space once again from American soil.
They turn to Stennis because of our unique rocket engine test capabilities and because of our history and proven expertise. They turn to Stennis because of our commitment to efficiency and frugal use of the “pennies on the dollars” that fund this nation’s space program. The center hosts a number of federal, state, academic and private organizations and several technology-based companies that share the cost of owning and operating the site, making it more cost-effective for NASA and each resident agency to accomplish its independent mission. All of this can be attributed to Stennis being ranked as one of the very best places to work among several hundred federal agency subcomponents for the past four years.
Stennis works in close partnership with the state of Mississippi to support economic and community initiatives. We are a major contributor to Gulf Coast and state economies. A recent Mississippi State University study shows Stennis spends almost three-fourths ($0.74) of every dollar within a four-county/parish, 50-mile-radius area. Our direct economic impact in 2014 totaled $678 million; and our global economic impact reached $917 million. Stennis is powering the nation’s space dreams right here in the great state of Mississippi.
In his speech five years ago, President Obama spoke of the Apollo 11 mission that carried humans to the surface of the moon for the first time. “The question for us now,” he said, “is whether that was the beginning of something new or the end of something.”
For that answer, one need look no further than NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, where each engine test brings the nation closer and closer to realization of new dreams that push “the boundaries of humanity’s reach.”
For information about Stennis Space Center, visit:

By Rick Gilbrech

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