HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - NASA Administrator Charles Bolden paid a visit to Stennis Space Center in Hancock County Friday. He and other NASA leaders told the media the agency is focused on a mission to Mars. It's an ambitious goal that workers at Stennis Space Center will play a key role in reaching.
The news conference with NASA's top brass was supposed to take place outside in front of the B-2 test stand. But lightning and rain forced leaders indoors.
"We had hoped to be doing this at the base of the B-2 test stand, but Southern Mississippi in the late summer is a little bit unpredictable," said Richard Gilbrech, Director of Stennis Space Center.
The leaders said these are exciting times for NASA and for Stennis Space Center as crews are preparing for a trip to deep space.
"We're going to go to Mars. It won't be next week, it won't be next year, but we're putting the capabilities in place to take folks to Mars and we're pretty excited about it," said Robert Lightfoot, NASA Associate Administrator.
Stennis Space Center workers will test the RS-25 rocket engines that will take astronauts to Mars, according to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
"The reason I came down today and Robert came down is to get a look at the B-2 test stand. We're getting ready to bring the core stage of SLS here for testing, and it's the B-2 test stand. We used to test the Saturn Five the last time we decided to go beyond the earth's orbit. It's a historic test stand," explained NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
The B-2 test stand is more than 50 years old. It was used in the Apollo days back in the 1960s. The stand is now undergoing a $140 million restoration and modification process.
The hope is to conduct the first engine test on the B-2 test stand sometime in the year 2016.