NASA's Liberty Star Stops In Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

NASA's Liberty Star Stops In Gulfport

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - One South Mississippi port has a new partnership with NASA. Wednesday, NASA's Liberty Star docked at the Port of Gulfport. It's just the beginning of a mission that will eventually end thousands of miles beyond Earth.  

"Gulfport is playing a critical role here," sadi NASA's Steven Roy.

Lockheed Martin builds the 15 story, 1.7 pound tanks for NASA. In the past, tanks left directly from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans heading for the Kennedy Space Center. But now, things have changed.

"The stop in Gulfport is very, very important because the old way of going from the New Orleans has now been blocked off by the Corps of Engineers," Roy said.

Roy said because of new measures for hurricane preparedness in New Orleans, NASA's Liberty Star must now stop at the Port of Gulfport. Tugboats will bring the massive orange fuel tanks from New Orleans to South Mississippi. The port will serve as the staging center for the massive transfer.

"I think it sends a message that the Port of Gulfport is capable of doing things in a variety of fashions," said Executive Port Director Don Allee.

Allee said even though the changes won't provide much of an economic boost, it proves the capabilities of the port.

"You don't have to put a dollar value on everything that means a lot to us. Sending that message that we can do other things than just handle routine cargo, we can step up to the plate in a specialized fashion. I think that's got some value to it," Alee said.

Right now NASA workers are testing the Liberty Star as it prepares for the arrival of the fuel tanks. Once the transfer is complete, the ship will make its 900 mile journey to Kennedy Space Center to prepare for another lift off.  

The tank will be delivered to the port of Gulfport Thursday morning. NASA said it will take about five days for the Liberty Star to travel from Gulfport to Kennedy Space Center.

The tank being transported will be the primary tank in a November space shuttle launch.

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