Stennis Space Center Reaches New Milestone - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/22/04

Stennis Space Center Reaches New Milestone

Jennifer Forrester, her brother Stephen, and friend Robert, were anxious to see what all the fuss was about at Stennis Space Center Wednesday afternoon.

"I've never seen it before and I don't think either one of them have, so it's probably the first time for a lot of people," said Forrester.

They joined hundreds of first-time as well as veteran spectators as Stennis prepared to celebrate its one-millionth second of shuttle engine test firing.

The engine itself will make history in the Fall when it helps to launch the space shuttle Discovery - propelling our nation, as well as its space program, to new dimensions.

"I think it's very important for mankind in general. I know that we develop a lot of things that kind of benefited people here and so I think it's important to continue," said spectator Mia Oramous.

As the clear sky turned grey from the rain clouds created by the burning of thousands of gallons of hydrogen and oxygen, history was made.

"Jet engines used to be thrown away after ten hours and now they operate on the wing of an airplane for 30-thousand hours. This is the first reusable rocket engine ever in history, and we've just fired 1 million seconds. I got a chance to ride three of them three times into orbit. I tell you, the things are just magnificent," said NASA official Bill Readdy.

"With the president's announcement, where we're gonna go for the nation's new space policy, you gotta break Earth's gravity to get either to the moon Mars or beyond, and it takes engines like we tested today to do that," said another NASA official.

Ryan Rigney believed the day's historical test passed with flying colors, and summed up it up in three simple words.

"It was neat," said Rigney.

The space shuttle main engine that was tested will eventually leave Stennis and head to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

By Karla Redditte

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