Representatives from NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center visited Jackson on Feb. 10, to meet with Mississippi legislators as part of NASA Day at the Capitol.
Astronaut Steven Swanson, who has logged more than 640 hours in space and almost 27 spacewalk hours during a pair of space shuttle missions, joined the Stennis representatives to thank Mississippi legislators for their continued support of NASA. They highlighted the center's important role in the past, present and future of America's space program, and its positive effect on Mississippi's economy and quality of life. They also focused on the end of NASA's Space Shuttle Program, scheduled for later this year, as well as Stennis' 50th anniversary celebration as the nation's premier rocket engine test facility. NASA announced plans to build the test center in south Mississippi on Oct. 25, 1961.
Stennis tested the first and second Saturn V rocket stages for NASA's Apollo Program, including those used to carry humans to the moon, as well as all of the engines used in more than 130 space shuttle missions. The center now is testing Aerojet AJ26 rocket engines that will power Orbital Sciences Corporation's commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station. It also is preparing to test the new J-2X rocket engine in development, as NASA moves forward with plans for humans to travel into deep space once more.
During Feb. 10 activities, Stennis displayed exhibits in the Rotunda, highlighting the center's role in the future of space exploration and its economic history and importance.
"It always is exciting to share the story of Stennis Space Center and its role in America's space program," Stennis Director Patrick Scheuermann said. "That is especially so this year as Stennis both supports NASA's move to partner with companies for commercial space flight missions and the development of new rocket engines that will carry America beyond low-Earth orbit into deep space again. In both areas, Stennis is helping power the future of space exploration."
Stennis is a unique federal city that is home to NASA and more than 30 federal, state and private sector agencies, including the U.S. Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA's Shared Services Center, which provides all of the agency's financial, procurement, human resources, customer contact and administrative processing services.
The center has a total workforce of about 5,400, almost completely from Mississippi and Louisiana communities, and has a consistently strong economic impact throughout the region. Within a 50-mile radius, Stennis had a direct economic impact of $616 million in 2010. The direct global economic impact of the center totaled $875 million for the year.
"Stennis and the state of Mississippi have developed a strong partnership of mutual support in the last 50 years," Scheuermann said. "As we celebrate the impact of that relationship through the years, we also look forward to continuing to work together on the front lines of the nation's space efforts."
For more information about Stennis Space Center and its economic importance to the region, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis.
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