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Lagniappe for April 2024

a RS-25 hot fire is seen across the canal at NASA Stennis Test Complex; cover for April 2024 Lagniappe
Explore the April 2024 issue, highlighted by NASA achieving a milestone for new Artemis Moon rocket engines, NASA and Stennis Leaders providing an annual update, and a reminder about the total solar eclipse on April 8.

Explore the April 2024 issue of Lagniappe featuring:

  • NASA Achieves Milestone for Engines to Power Future Artemis Missions
  • NASA-Sponsored FIRST Robotics Competition Welcomes 37 Teams to Magnolia Regional
  • NASA, Stennis Leaders Provide Annual Update

Gator Speaks

Gator experiencing a solar eclipse; the illustrated character is wearing a white hard hat and glasses
Gator Speaks

Picture this. The year is 2044. It is 20 years into the future, and you think to yourself, “Life is all about moments. Sometimes we recognize the moment at hand, and at other times, it passes us by before we notice. I wish I paid attention when NASA told me about the last total solar eclipse in 2024, since it has been such a long time since one was visible across the United States.”

Then, you snap out of the daydream of the future, return to the present moment, and realize, “Wait! There’s still time to view the total solar eclipse in 2024.”

The regret you were feeling from missing out on the total solar eclipse in 2024 fades. Indeed, the moment has not passed you by… yet.

The total solar eclipse coming on Monday, April 8, 2024, will in fact be the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States until 2044. If you are like Gator, you may have to brush up on what the word contiguous means, which describes the adjoining U.S. states and the District of Columbia that make up the United States of America.

It is a long time until 2044, so I invite all to step outside on April 8 and safely give this year’s eclipse a look. A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun.

Depending on your location, you may be in a spot where the Moon’s shadow completely covers the Sun, known as the path of totality. The sky will become dark, as if it were dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, people along the path of totality will see the Sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by the bright face of the Sun.

No matter where you are on April 8, NASA has you covered with this Solar Eclipse Guide: What to Expect: A Solar Eclipse Guide (

It will help you learn more about when the eclipse will occur, where you can go to watch the eclipse, and how you will watch the eclipse safely.

Every day, NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all. On April 8, I invite you to join NASA wherever you might be and explore the views of the total solar eclipse.

INFINITY Science Center, the official visitor center of NASA Stennis, will be open on Monday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at regular admission rates. All are invited for a day of solar science.

In Case You Missed It

NASA Stennis welcomed two special guests March 6 when NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman and Christina Koch visited south Mississippi to view an RS-25 hot fire test. Along with NASA astronaut Victor Glover and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, Wiseman and Koch were named to the Artemis II crew on April 3, 2023. The four astronauts will be the crew that ventures around the Moon on Artemis II as the first crewed mission on NASA’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon for science and exploration through Artemis.

About Gator

Gator has served as the official mascot of NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, dating back to the site’s early construction years. The character has since been featured on NASA Stennis site certificates and awards. Gator also provides a source of encouragement for all things NASA in Lagniappe, the official monthly newsletter of NASA Stennis. To subscribe to the monthly newsletter, simply send your name, location, and email address to the NASA Stennis Office of Communications. Together, we are going back to the Moon – and beyond!

NASA Stennis Top News

NASA Achieves Milestone for Engines to Power Future Artemis Missions

NASA achieved a major milestone April 3 for production of new RS-25 engines to help power its Artemis campaign to the Moon and beyond with completion of a critical engine certification test series at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Artemis Generation Students Inspired During NASA STEM Event

The questions kept coming, exceeding the allotted time, as students at NASA’s Next Gen STEM event in late February explored the importance of computer science for future agency missions.

Center Activities

NASA, Stennis Leaders Provide Annual Update

NASA Stennis Acting Director John Bailey delivered the annual State of NASA Stennis address to over 100 business and industry leaders from Mississippi and Louisiana during the 12th annual NASA Stennis Space Center Director’s Community Briefing on March 20 at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium in Slidell, Louisiana.

Bailey discussed ongoing activities at the center and the outlook for NASA Stennis’ mission objectives, including propulsion testing, autonomous systems, range operations, and growth of the federal city.

A new NASA Stennis overview video, narrated by NASA Stennis employee Barry Robinson and featuring the diverse and highly skilled NASA Stennis workforce, premiered at the briefing with community leaders to an enthusiastic response.

“I really love that video,” Bailey said to the audience. “We just produced that, and it really gives you an idea of who we are. Really, the thing I like the most is when all of our employees get up there and I see how excited they are because they are our most valuable resource we have. We could not do what we do without our employees, and we have some of the best in the world doing what we do for NASA.”

Participating speakers and organizations included: Hansel Gill, acting director of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans; Jennifer Hailes, deputy technical director of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; Steve Heller, founder, CEO, and CTO of Evolution Space. Mark Glorioso, chairman of Partners for Stennis & Michoud, served as emcee for the event.

NASA-Sponsored FIRST Robotics Competition Welcomes 37 Teams to Magnolia Regional

Thirty-seven high school teams from eight states and one from Mexico competed during the second annual FIRST Robotics Magnolia Regional Competition in Laurel, Mississippi, on March 15. The FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics event is described as the ultimate sport of the mind as teams concentrate and share in the excitement of success. NASA’s Stennis Space Center joined with NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project and co-sponsor Mississippi Power to bring to life all aspects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in the Magnolia state through the regional event.

NASA Attends New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

4 members of the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week panel are sitting on a stage
Two employees from NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, participated as technology transfer panelists during the 13th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week at Gallier Hall on March 13. Tom Stanley, chief technology transfer officer at NASA Stennis, and Tom Lipski, technology transfer expansion lead at NASA Stennis, joined Passant Rabie, space reporter at Gizmodo, and Anil John, technical director at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to discuss how NASA and DHS help contribute to startup business activity. Pictured from left are Rabie, Lipski, Stanley, and John. The New Orleans Entrepreneur Week panel event focused on bringing together innovators and visionaries to explore, learn, and connect.

NASA in the News

Employee Profile

a woman, cherie beech, wearing a green sweater smiles at the camera while standing at a desk working on a laptop
Cherie Beech works in the NASA Stennis Office of the Chief Information Officer, where she helps many of the more than 5,200 employees of the NASA Stennis Federal City, as customer engagement and information technology acquisition specialist.
NASA/Danny Nowlin

Cherie Beech knows full well the opportunity that working at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, affords.

Additional Resources

Subscription Info

Lagniappe is published monthly by the Office of Communications at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. The NASA Stennis office may be contacted by at 228-688-3333 (phone); (email); or NASA OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS, Attn: LAGNIAPPE, Mail code IA00, Building 1111 Room 173, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529 (mail).

The Lagniappe staff includes: Managing Editor Lacy Thompson, Editor Bo Black, and photographer Danny Nowlin.

To subscribe to the monthly publication, please email the following to – name, location (city/state), email address.