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Senator quizzes NASA administrator about test stand

HANCOCK COUNTY – U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) wants NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to continue providing Congress information that will help ensure the upgrade of the Stennis Space Center’s B-2 test stand remains on schedule.

Cochran addressed the NASA budget at a Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee hearing where Bolden provided testimony on the President’s FY2014 budget requests for the U.S. space agency.

“Mississippians take great pride in the work done at the Stennis Space Center for NASA and space exploration in general. The decision last year to upgrade the B-2 test stand sent a clear signal that Stennis would remain an important facility for these missions,” Cochran said. “I want to make sure that funding levels in the budget are sufficient to maintain the integrity of the test stand, which will have the critical responsibility of testing rocket engines before they are committed to a launch.”

Bolden assured Cochran that NASA currently has sufficient funding to continue agency activities at Stennis, where NASA will use the B-2 facility to test the next-generation SLS propulsion system that is critical to launching human crews for deep space exploration missions.

“We are progressing well on the upgrades to the B-2 test stand which, as I mentioned before, will be critical for main propulsion tests for SLS. Their (Stennis Space Center’s) record for performance in meeting test schedules, not only for the J-2X but for even our commercial partners’ rockets, is phenomenal. We have days that we run two or three engine tests. It’s unprecedented. I think we are doing well,” Bolden testified.

Cochran responded, “Your advice and your observations about the needs for funding are considered very important because we know you’re familiar with Stennis and the test stand and how it is producing some additional resources for NASA. We want to make sure Congress does its part to maintain the integrity of that facility.”

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