HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Governor Phil Bryant wants to ensure that the road to space continues to go through Hancock County, Mississippi. Monday, at Infinity Science Center in Hancock County, he signed an executive order that will form the Mississippi National Guard Space Directorate.
“I am extremely excited about the two initiatives announced today,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “Mississippi has been a leader in the field of space for many years and I believe that we have the capabilities to attract other space companies to invest in the state and the ability through our National Guard to use space technology to aid in defense and disaster response.”
As the United States moves forward in space exploration, Gov. Bryant said that Mississippi will be a state that comes to mind when decisions are made for space force bases. “My belief is that one day Congress is going to look at those states that have a space force, that also have a NASA center, there’s very few that will have both, and as we look at the bases that will be formed for the space force into the future, I think Mississippi will be well positioned to be one of those locations," Gov. Bryant told WLOX.
The purpose of establishing this Space Initiative is to create a specific entity to target space companies and attract them to the state. Patrick Scheuermann, former head of Stennis Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center, will be leading the initiative. “I look forward to working with all of the government agencies on the base here to make sure their funding is where it needs to be and to make sure that our capabilities in the region and across the state are relevant and compelling to convince other clients and customers to do business in Mississippi," said Scheuermann.
One of those clients already busy at work at Stennis - California-based Relativity Space. “We’re the first and only company to 3-D print rockets," said Relativity co-Founder Jordan Noone. “We manufacture and design the world’s largest metal 3-D printers and the actual rockets themselves. Just three weeks ago we announced a 220,000 square foot partnership at NASA Stennis taking over building 9101 for manufacturing services. We will be developing our larger 3-D printers in that building,” Noone said.
“The state of Mississippi has a long history of making key investments at Stennis Space Center to attract government, university and commercial customers to the Federal City,” Dr. Rick Gilbrech, the Director of Stennis Space Center said. “The new initiatives the Governor announced today will continue that tradition and bolster the Gulf Coast’s involvement in both civil, commercial and military space activities. These continued and future partnerships will also help NASA to achieve its objective with the Artemis mission to go forward to the Moon by 2024 and then on to Mars.”
The Mississippi National Guard Space Directorate will be commanded by Col. Billy Murphy of the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 186th Air Operations Group. He will integrate with current Space Commands, NASA, higher education institutions and aerospace industry partners.
Col. Murphy will also develop a Space Task Force that will be responsible for conducting space operations. This Space Force will help ensure Mississippi’s and the United States’ success in the domain of space. It aligns with President Donald Trump’s Space Force initiative and will be used to create and utilize space technology to develop defense and disaster response strategies.
“The Mississippi National Guard is extremely confident that we can grow the space mission here in Mississippi to meet the needs of our nation and state,” said Maj. Gen. Boyles, Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard.
Chairman of Senate Commerce Committee Roger Wicker weighed in on the announcements saying, “The two announcements Governor Bryant made today are strong signals to our nation that the state of Mississippi is serious about space. These new commitments will ensure that the road to space continues to go through Mississippi. I am anticipating many more great accomplishments by the talented teams at Stennis Space Center and Mississippi’s Air National Guard.”
“Given Mississippi’s history in space exploration, I applaud Governor Bryant for being a forward thinker on ways that Mississippi can continue playing a role in American space missions,” Congressman Steven Palazzo said. “The Mississippi National Guard is always there to support critical military operations and I’ve no doubt they will make important contributions to our nation’s security in space through the formation of the space directorate.”