New bill aims to grow South Mississippi’s space industry

The “Green Run” test of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will be conducted...
The “Green Run” test of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will be conducted at the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Flight Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The historic test stand has been used to test stages for multiple programs, including the Saturn V and the space shuttle. The test stand was renovated to accommodate the SLS rocket’s core stage, which is the largest stage NASA has ever built.(NASA)
Updated: Nov. 11, 2019 at 2:45 PM CST
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HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Stennis Space Center’s key role in our nation’s exploration of space may be expanding.

Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith introduced the LIFT Act last week. The act’s full name is the Licensing Innovations and Future Technologies in Space Act.

The bill would modernize training for the federal commercial space licensing workforce and promote collaboration with academia and industry by creating a centralized training facility for safety and licensing personnel.

The new facility would be located at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.

Stennis already certifies rockets and other technologies. This bill, if passed, will increase the workforce of future space explorers and help us explore worlds beyond our own.

"We’re going to get back to the moon in a big way. And our goal is to put a woman on the moon in five years. And in another 5 years, so in 10 years, we hope to put Americans on Mars. The first human beings on Mars.

The Lift Act would create a new centralized training facility at Stennis where federal agents would learn how to license private companies that plan to send personnel and technology into space.

“The Stennis Space Center is the perfect location for training more space professionals to certify the growing demand for commercial space launches in the United States,” Wicker said in a statement. “This legislation would help ensure the U.S. remains the leader in the commercial space industry and would expand Mississippi’s contributions to the future of space exploration and research.”

The LIFTS Act would establish a facility to train federal employees to license commercial space activities. The training program would be coordinated between the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, the commercial space industry, and academic partners.

“The federal oversight and licensing of commercial space technologies will require a workforce qualified to certify the safety and efficiency of those breakthroughs. The LIFTS Act would tap the expertise based at the Stennis Space Center to establish a facility to meet this critical need,” Hyde-Smith said in a statement.

Gov. Phil Bryant said he hopes this new bill will help the next generation of space explorers explore the unknown.

“For nearly 60 years, Mississippi has been a leader in rocket engine testing and certification of systems and workforce,” said the governor in a statement. "When certifying rockets for space flight, it has been said, ‘Man may go to the moon and return safely to earth but he will have to pass through Mississippi to get there.’ As this bill is considered, my hope is that the existing experience in Mississippi is used as the foundation to train the next generation of space explorers.”

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