|The Federal Aviation Administration has expanded the restricted air space over NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. The expanded restricted air space bolsters Mississippi’s efforts to recruit more industry leaders to Stennis Space Center and the Gulf Coast region.
“The FAA’s approval of the expansion of restricted air space over Stennis Space Center strengthens the NASA facility’s position as a major asset and economic driver for the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the entire state,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “The expansion will add to our ability to support the emerging unmanned systems industry, and it positions Stennis as an ideal destination for companies looking to create jobs.”
The expansion also supports ongoing rocket engine testing at the facility and allows Stennis Space Center’s tenants to test unmanned aerial vehicles for research and development purposes. The air space also is used for training by the Department of Defense and commercial companies.
“The aerospace and defense industry has a successful history in Mississippi, and it continues growing at a rapid pace as newer innovative technologies, such as UAVs, become more widely recognized in today’s marketplace,” said Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr.
The restricted air space was initially defined over Stennis in the 1960s when the facility was preparing to test Apollo Saturn V rockets. The expansion, which went into effect on May 26, covers five areas, or approximately 100 square miles, between Stennis International Airport and the Picayune, Miss., airport.
Of the five areas under the expansion, three are for use by the Department of Defense, whose training includes firing lasers from the air to the ground. The other two areas are designated for NASA’s missions.