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The Future of Space Exploration at Kennedy
Highlights of the past year and work under way to support the nation's Vision for Space Exploration were the main topics Kennedy Space Center Director Jim Kennedy discussed at the annual Community Leaders Breakfast on May 12 at the Debus Conference Center, located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Participants included educators, public dignitaries, state and local government representatives, business executives, heads of community organizations, leaders in education, members of the NASA Alumni League, NASA, U.S. Air Force and contractor senior management and invited media representatives.

"You are all an important part of the NASA family," Kennedy said. "It's all about the people."

He said there will be a need for more non-traditional work at the center as NASA transitions from the space shuttle to the new exploration vehicles. Kennedy said this work could be in the areas of Crew Exploration Vehicle final assembly, transportation service or other exploration opportunities.

Center Director Jim Kennedy speaking at the Community Leaders Breakfast Image right: Mr. Kennedy and the audience apparently taking delight at a slide during his power point presentation. Image credit: NASA/KSC
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Kennedy spoke about new areas of commercialization, including the GlobalFlyer and Zero-G projects, and spinoffs of NASA technology. He also addressed the need for more students graduating with degrees in the engineering and science fields. "Currently we, as a nation, graduate only 6 percent of the total engineering and science students in the world," Kennedy said. "We have a charter to inspire the next generation of explorers."

Overviews were also presented by Rita Willcoxon, deputy director of Shuttle Processing; Russell Romanella, director of International Space Station/Payload Processing; Stephen Francois, manager of the Launch Services Program; and Pepper Phillips, deputy director of the Constellation Project Office.

"We have a challenging, exciting and difficult time ahead of us as we plan for the transition to the new Crew Exploration Vehicle program," Willcoxon said during her overview of processing highlights for mission STS-121.

Romanella showcased great moments in processing station elements in the Space Station Processing Facility and noted that exploration in the future is going to be an international effort. "We're connected to exploration," he said.

After viewing a video highlighting the Launch Services Program processing and launch activities, Francois said: "We have a team that really enjoys what they do. We're part of this community."

Phillips said that Kennedy will play a big role in the future of space exploration. "We have a bold mission," he said.

Linda Herridge, Staff Writer
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center