Stennis leaders optimistic about future work

By Al Showers – bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Stennis Space Center leaders on Wednesday affirmed their confidence as NASA's lead rocket engine testing facility, despite President Obama's proposal to cut funding for space exploration to the moon.

Right now, work on the A-3 engine tests stand at Stennis is moving forward. Once complete, the stand will be used to test the Ares one rocket motor.

"The exploration directive with NASA that's responsible for Constellation is reviewing all of the work in the Constellation program," Center Director Gene Goldman. said. "The completion of A-3 will be one of those things that is reviewed by exploration. In the mean time, we continue to do work on the A-3."

Goldman said although the President's proposed budget cuts the Constellation program, it adds $6 billion to NASA's budget over the next five years. Half of that would be to develop propulsion technology.

"We still expect to be doing rocket engine testing here, it will just be rocket engines that are developed by commercial interests."

That's something Goldman said is already happening in Hancock County.

"We here at Stennis are already doing a lot of work with commercial interests such as orbital science corporation and the AJ 26 work, which we're already planning to do here. So we're already on the path of testing and working very closely with commercial entities."

As for how the proposed changes would impact the 2,200 NASA and contract workers at Stennis is still unclear.

"At this time, we're not sure what the long term impact on employment will be. We're waiting until the programs are defined and test programs are defined to identify any impact to our contract community."

Congressman Gene Taylor has gone on record opposing the president's budget.

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