Proposed deep space exploration good news for Stennis Space Center - - The News for South Mississippi

Proposed deep space exploration good news for Stennis Space Center

By Jessica Bowman – email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Six billion dollars. That's how much money President Obama wants to add to NASA's budget over a five year period. The president was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Thursday where he outlined his vision for space travel, earth science and more.

The president emphasized he is 100 percent committed to NASA and its future.

So how does this impact Stennis Space Center in Hancock County?

"Critical to deep space exploration will be the development of break through propulsion systems and other advanced technologies," said President Obama.

And those systems start at our back door.

Stennis Space Center Public Relations Director Paul Foerman said, "The big thing he has done for Stennis is the development of a heavy lift vehicle."

Foerman said the space shuttle currently travels 250 miles above the Earth, but the planned heavy lift vehicle would go well beyond that.

"The eventual plan is to go beyond low Earth orbit with eventual journeys to Mars this vehicle will give us those capabilities," Foerman said.

The plan to build the heavy lift vehicle allows Stennis to continue the work it does best.

"We will test the engines for this new vehicle that's being developed."

Foerman said Stennis would play a critical role in the development and design of the vehicle. And when it becomes a reality, Stennis would then test the engines that will carry the vehicle thousands of miles above.

"That's really good thing for us," Foerman said.

"Broadening our capabilities in space will continue to serve our society in ways that we can scarcely imagine," said President Obama.

NASA officials said the proposed $6 billion budget will also go to partnering with commercial entities to develop other vehicles to explore space and supply the space station. Foerman said Stennis is already working with the private sector to test out engines.

Foerman said if the president's proposal goes as planned, the heavy lift vehicle design will be complete by the year 2015.

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