Stennis Launches Multi-Million Dollar Project

In three years, South Mississippi will have a new major tourist draw--$35 million dollar science center near Stennis Space Center. Wednesday, Stennis Space Center and a non-profit group called MAST launched a project called 'Infinity' which will give visitors hands-on exploration of the earth, oceans and space.

They wore suits, ties, and 3-D goggles to look into the future of space exploration in South Mississippi. A virtual tour of Infinity showed what NASA and a non-profit group plan to build by 2007.

Stennis Director Admiral Tom Donaldson calls it, " a special, unique, world class science and technology center to come."

Inside, visitors will tour three galleries to learn about the earth, space and oceans.

"It will be revealed to in spire the next generation of explorers and engineers."

Infinity will combine the assets of the vistor center, educational resouce center, and Stennisphere, which is now located north of I-10. It will be easy to spot from the interstate and is expected to draw in up to 362,000 visitors a year.

"This will be one of the top-notch destinations for all of our tourists here in the state, and once they visit this facility, they'll want to come back and stay even longer and learn more about it," Tourism Director Craig Ray said.

Donaldson added, "We're going to move what currently exists on Stennis Space Center, that would be Stennisphere. That will be the kernel for expansion."

The mission of Infinity will be to boost tourism benefit the nation's space program, as well as spark an interest in young people to become the space explorers and researchers of tomorrow.

The science center will be located along I-10, on 200 acres of land donated by NASA. The space agency has already budgeted $9 million for Infinity.

The rest of the money will come from state and private donations and fundraising. Groundbreaking is set for next year, with completion expected in 2007.