NASA administrator discusses upcoming plans

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 16, 2018

During Tuesday’s NASA press conference, newly appointed administrator Jim Bridenstine discussed NASA’s future and the impact Stennis Space Center has had on space exploration.

Bridenstine said NASA only makes up a half of one percent of the national federal budget, yet the agency makes great strides nationally. NASA has been influential in how people communicate in the 21st century, he said. Having technology in space plays a big part in the modern day Internet, communications, national defense and disaster relief.

“NASA blazed a trail that paved the way to space. We want to continue on,” Bridenstine said.

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Bridenstine said that in 2019 the plan is to launch American rockets with American astronauts from American soil to the International Space Station. He said this will be the first time the United States has sent its own astronauts into space since the shuttle program was cancelled in 2011. He said this will help NASA maintain its partnership with Russia, while still maintaining its independence.

Additionally, NASA is planning to send the largest rocket ever launched, the Space Launch System, into space next year. The modified version of the RS-25 engine that was tested on Tuesday will be one of the main components on that rocket, Bridenstine said. He said this new rocket will enable the agency to carry higher payloads into space. This program could open up longer missions to the moon and eventually missions to Mars, he said.

“We’ve got a lot on our plate right now and we’re excited,” Bridenstine said.

Bridenstine also spoke briefly about how Stennis has affected space exploration. He said some of NASA’s greatest accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without the facilities and minds at Stennis, and said that it is a wonderful facility with a great history.