HANCOCK COUNTY — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) reports NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. has offered additional assurances that his agency intends to complete construction of test stands at the Stennis Space Center, which he described as a “rejuvenated” facility.
Cochran, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned Bolden during a Senate subcommittee hearing April 11 to review the FY2012 budget request for NASA.
Cochran sought Bolden’s views on the future of NASA’s test stands and its development of 130-ton heavy lift vehicle in light of the funding uncertainties for the remainder of FY2011, as well as FY2012.
“Despite some uncertainties about the impacts of the FY2011 budget, I’m hopeful we can stay on track for developing the 130-ton heavy lift capacity as well as vehicles for cargo transport to low earth orbit. At the same time, we want to be sure we have ample rocket testing results and an infrastructure to support these capabilities,” Cochran said. “Administrator Bolden’s advice to the administration and Congress is important to keeping us on track in terms of taking the right steps with funding activities to help us reach these goals in a fiscally responsible manner.”
Cochran sought assurances that NASA will dedicate resources to its testing facilities, which are integral milestones toward achieving eventual success and usefulness for the planned 21st Century Launch Complex at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Cochran stressed the importance of completing the A-3 test stand to facilitate rocket engine tests for exploration beyond low earth orbit as well as other test stand infrastructure such as the B-2 stand for potential commercial and other engine trials.
Bolden said the NASA budget request would support rocket engine testing infrastructure.
“The 2012 budget that I have put forth will support the continued development of our testing capability at Stennis. We intend to complete the construction of the A-3 test stand. I think, as you are probably very well aware, Stennis has become rejuvenated and reinvigorated,” said Bolden, citing recent rocket tests and the increased testing capabilities that will be offered with a completed A-3 test stand.
Cochran also asked for NASA’s views on potential commercial rocket engine testing activities at Stennis.
Bolden responded that the Stennis Space Center “is the propulsion test center for the, we like to say it’s for the world, but it’s for the United States. And we want to get everybody to come there and do their tests. And will make sure that we are competitive in terms of cost, but we will take all comers.”
Source: Sen. Thad Cochran