NASA leaders talk budget increases at Stennis

NASA leaders talk budget increases at Stennis

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, MS (WLOX) - Money matters were the focus of NASA and Stennis Space Center leaders Tuesday.  Administrator Charles Bolden delivered his State of NASA Address on closed-circuit television.

Local media members were invited to watch Bolden's speech live Tuesday afternoon at Stennis Space Center.

The NASA administrator told the crowd the Obama administration is proposing a $19 billion budget for NASA next year. Of that, $156 million is slated to reach South Mississippi for Stennis Space Center.

That's a $5 million increase over the current year's budget, but Stennis leaders say it will do little to bring back employees recently laid off at the space center.

"We've been trying to figure out at NASA how to get better at utilizing each other for things collaborating, cooperating, to cut down overhead. To get more efficient. Recognizing a contract such as that means a lot of good people are effected. We regret that deeply, because some of the people have been out here in excess of 30 years, some even 40 years. We recognize their service, and we thank them for it, but if we're going to go to Mars in the 2030s, we have to change the way we're operating, and we have to be more efficient," said Stennis Space Center Deputy Director Randy Galloway.

That collaboration Galloway referred to is with the NASA Michoud Assembly Plant in New Orleans East. Galloway said the layoffs affected 17 percent of the workforce at Stennis.

Stennis leaders told WLOX News Now on a previous occasion that some of those employees would be rehired at the Michoud facility.

Galloway told reporters the money budgeted for Stennis will be used to start research and development on electric propulsion systems and green alternatives to fuel driven rocket motor engines. He said the money will also allow the Space Center to continue work on its A-1 and B-2 rocket motor test stands in preparation for the Space Launch System.

Increased security measures at the Space Center will also be addressed.

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