Bay ST. LOUIS, miss. (AP) – The future of NASA and space exploration begins in Mississippi, officials say, and with NASA's goal to return to the Moon in 2019, the Stennis Space Center is at the center of the program.
Maybe one day they'll go back to the moon, but they'll have to drive through Hancock County to get there, "said Governor Phil Bryant.
Bryant was one of about 100 people attending an RS-25 engine test on 14 August in Stennis, the first of 10 test fires for the first SLS project
The center has been a NASA test site for more than 50 years, starting with the Apollo missions that first took man to the moon.
"The engines that brought Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to the lunar surface in 1
In 1966, scientists at Stennis began testing the engines that propelled the Saturn V rockets to the Moon during the Apollo missions, with six successful lunar landings between 1969 and 1972.
The next phase of spaceflight was the birth of the International Space Station and NASA's launch of the space shuttle program.
25 engines were used at different times to launch the Space Shuttle for 34 years, from 1975 to 2009, when the program was discontinued.
"For a few years, we saw a decline in NASA, we saw the cancellation of the Constellation program," said MP Steven Palazzo, who led NASA's subcommittee for five and a half years. "There was not much direction or stability for the program and in recent years we have been trying to make more money available to NASA."
"When I was chairman, one of our most important things was finding out about our roadmap. Where do we want to go? How do we get there and how do we pay for it? How do we build the equipment that leads us further and deeper into space? NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said NASA's mission is to bring astronauts back to the moon and eventually prepare them for longer missions. Adapted RS-25s will help them with this.
"The RS-25 represents America's ability to fly deeper into space than we've ever flown before, "said Briddentine." This is the rocket propulsion that we are. It will be the core stage of the SLS rocket, which is the most powerful rocket ever built was the largest rocket ever built with the Exploration Upper Stage. Ultimately, it will carry heavier payloads and payloads than ever before.
The same 14 engines used to launch the spacecraft and two new RS-25s are being modified for NASA's latest Space Launch System
The two new RS-25 engines were added to the stable as the SLS Missiles each require four RS-25s to launch, so NASA has four launch mechanisms that can be used by all. Time to launch the Orion spacecraft.
Stennis will be testing the SLS Core Tier this year – – Simultaneous firing of four RS-25 engines – start and ensure that the engines start correctly on manned missions.
The first crew member test flights are expected to commence in April, with two NASA astronauts joined by SpaceX Crew Dragon with one Falcon 9 rocket flying to and from the International Space Station
American astronauts travel to the space station at the Russian Soyuz rockets, which Bridenstine says that they will go on, but the US must also be able to rely on its own capabilities to bring astronauts into space.
Once the test flights are successful, the first manned mission to the Moon will follow and the first manned flight to Mars will be close on his heels, possibly as early as 2020, Bridenstine said.
"We just got a lot on our plate and we're very excited," said Briddentine
The US astronauts had gone to the moon first, barely scratching the surface, he said.
"When they left, it was not sustainable," said Briddentine. "There were flags and footprints, and when we got home, we never went back," he said. "This time around, we want every piece of architecture to be reusable to cut costs, and we want to use our international partners and our commercial partners to do more than we've ever done before."
The 2008-09 Discoveries of Water Ice on the Moon, put a new emphasis on returning there.
"We now understand that there are hundreds of billions of tons of water ice on the Moon's surface," said Briddentine. "Water ice is not just about life support, water to drink, air to breathe, it also stands for drive."
Palazzo said he is looking forward to NASA's new direction. He said Stennis' role in the SLS program will affect Mississippi and the country "for generations to come".
"As the administrator (Bridenstine) said and we have long said we want to do it. Leave the Russian trust to bring American astronauts into space," he said. "We want to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil."
Bridenstine said it was important to invest in NASA's growth as nearly every part of American life is affected by NASA technology, including weather forecasts and computer networks, cell towers, power grids, and banks. Even farmers use NASA technology to grow food.
"If there is no banking, there is no milk in the supermarket and that can be an existential threat to the United States," said Briddentine. "When you think about the human situation on earth, the way we communicate, the way we produce food, the way we produce energy, the way we do it Security and defense do disaster relief, as we predict the weather – 80 percent of this data comes from space.
"NASA has paved the way for the frontiers of space, and now it's been commercialized and democratized in a way that has changed the human condition for a good cause.
The SLS rocket engines are assembled by Aerojet Rocketdyne at the Stennis Space Center to reduce the cost of adapting the RS-25 to SLS capability, and while the engines are about 40 years old, the engine controller the brain of the engine – upgraded to the latest technology available.
"Just as you do not use the same computer you used five years ago, we do not use the same cont roller – or computer – we used 20 or 30 years ago The Space Shuttle's main engine, "said Dan Adamski, Program Director RS-25.
Adamski said Aerojet Rocketdyne's recent goal is to cut costs by at least 35 percent, improving the company's performance
"That's what we're trying to cut costs while maintaining high reliability and high performance," he said
NASA has already spent billions on the SLS program, but the costs are being defended by the Bridenstine. He said that NASA's budget accounts for less than half of 1 percent of the state budget and is critical to the country's security.
"NASA has hundreds of billions in circulation and lives in orbit, and space is so important to the human condition right now," he said. We are now at a point where, if we were to lose face, that would be an existential threat to the United States of America.
For more information about the Stennis Space Center, visit nasa.gov/centers/tennis. For more information about the Space Launch System, visit: http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com