Stennis Space Center houses hidden federal city

Updated: Jul. 17, 2019 at 2:47 PM CDT
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HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) -When most people think of Stennis Space Center, they think of NASA. However, there's a lot more to Stennis than just the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

In fact, Stennis is what's known as a Federal City.

"It’s a collection of more than 40 organizations, federal agencies, state agencies, universities and commercial aerospace companies that collectively call Stennis Space Center home,” said Rodney McKellip, Stennis deputy director of operations. “So, from a city standpoint, we NASA, are the city managers. We provide the fire department, we provide the police force, we provide the potable water and utilities you need to run a city.”

The Apollo missions may have put Stennis in the spotlight, but McKellip said the federal city concept put Stennis on the map.

"NASA built Stennis out of the swamps of South Mississippi specifically to test the Apollo engines and launch vehicles,” McKellip added. “And that only lasted about five years, so you had this tremendous investment in South Mississippi in this brand-new facility that in five years had completed its primary mission. The thought was to bring a variety of organizations within the federal government that are engaged in research pursuits that can use this facility.”

From there, the federal city was born and has grown into what could be called a think-tank metropolis.

"To give you scale, there are 5,000 people that come to Stennis every day for work, more than 3,000 of those come into to something other than NASA Work, so the federal city comprises more than half the work that goes on here at Stennis Space Center,” he added. “I think the average South Mississippian would be surprised at the scope of activities and the scope of mission that happen at Stennis beyond the smoke and fire that NASA creates.”

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