STENNIS SPACE CENTER, MS (WLOX) - On Friday, Administrator Charles Bolden made his tenth and final visit to Stennis Space Center as NASA's leader before he leaves the position on Jan. 20.
"Nothing goes to space without going through Mississippi," Bolden said during his 30-minute visit with the media.
Engines built to propel men into space are tested at Stennis. Over the next year, several tests are scheduled with the ultimate goal of developing an engine strong enough to make it to Mars.
"I think that the future of Stennis is bright not just with NASA propulsion systems, but with propulsion systems from a number of our commercial partners," Bolden said.
NASA policies could change when Donald Trump becomes president, but administrative change is nothing new. Bolden believes NASA will have no problems adjusting to whatever lies ahead.
"I don't think the new administration presents any more uncertainty than the Obama administration did when they came in," Bolden said.
Even if overall policies change, Director Richard Gilbrech doesn't think the mission for Stennis will look any different.
"One thing I'm encouraged in is this architecture is very flexible," Gilbrech said. "Wherever you want to go, you need a heavy lift rocket and we've intentionally made it so that it can fit a number of different destination."
Bolden will leave behind a legacy of progress in the mission to Mars, but he's also proud of educational advancements for the next generation of potential astronauts.
"Programs like first robotics and First Legos, kids are just flocking out to be a part of those programs because they want to build a robot," Bolden said.
NASA is expected to take a big leap in the mission to Mars in 2018. Work is currently underway to launch the SLS Orion in late 2018 for an orbit around the Moon.