HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The future of science discovery and space exploration seems to be taking off in South Mississippi.
Experts in groundbreaking fields laid out the latest at the annual Partners for Stennis Director's briefing at the Infinity Science Center Wednesday morning. Updates from Naval Meteorology and Oceanography, updates in technical training, and of course updates on the science center itself.
"Our primary mission is to help people find again curiosity, and to kindle curiosity," said center director, John Wilson.
According to the growing audience, curiosity is a good market to tap into. Wilson says attendance has grown around 10 percent each year for the past three. It's enough for those in charge to expand facilities to include a brand new 3D theater, set to open in October, and several other renovations and expansions.
Wilson hopes the curiosity generated will translate into strengthening the scientific work force; which is much needed. With a new administration, the future of NASA and space exploration is not set in stone.
"Once they get a director there that will probably help pot in some policy," said Dr. Richard Gilbrech, Stennis Space Center director. "Then we'll just wait for direction from the President and wait to see what Congress authorizes and appropriates."
Until then, he and the rest of NASA will be working full steam ahead on its newest initiative - Journey to Mars. The testing of 2.2 million pounds of thrust is still happening and it looks like a good year ahead. The testing is all working toward one mission: getting to the red planet.
"We hope to be able to do that first exploration mission flight one in 2018 and that's real hardware," said Gilbrech.
It's an excitement that can be compared to the thrill of the Apollo program, and it has to go through South Mississippi first.