HANCOCK COUNTY — NASA has decided to move forward with a new space launch system, which will advance opportunities at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for testing the new heavy-lift rockets needed for future manned space exploration.
NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., announced the selection of a design for a new space launch system yesterday. The space agency is opting to advance an evolvable space launch system, fueled by a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel stem that can initially lift 70-100 metric tons. The system would be designed to eventually be able to lift up to 130 metric tons into orbit.
“The NASA decision to move forward with a heavy-lift system design is good news, and it should ease some of the uncertainty created with the end of the space shuttle program about the future of the American space program,” said Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Cochran will participate in consideration of the FY2012 NASA budget today when the full committee takes up the FY2012 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill.
“As NASA moves to establish a development strategy for the new system, we will also need to ensure that appropriate investments are made to support rocket testing infrastructure at Stennis,” Cochran said. “The A-3 test stand at Stennis is nearing completion, and I look forward to continued investment in the B-2 stand and other assets that are required to ensure that NASA and commercial space projects maintain the highest safety and reliability standards.”
At an April hearing on future NASA budgets, Cochran received assurances from Bolden that NASA would continue investments at Stennis to complete 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. In addition, Cochran toured the A-3 and B-2 facilities at Stennis with NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver in August.