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Final Shuttle Landing Doesn’t End Stennis Space Center’s Key Role in U.S. Space Launches

By Rhonda Miller | Published 21 Jul 2011 12:33am | comments
A model of a space shuttle is at the Stennis visitors center. Stennis Space Center tests engines used for the shuttle.

With the landing of the shuttle Atlantis, a proud chapter in America’s space program comes to an end.  Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis has played a pivotal role in space missions. And as MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports, that role doesn’t end with the final flight of the shuttle.

Stennis will continue to test rocket engines that launch vehicles into space. Stennis Director Patrick Scheuermann says as part of NASA, the center will continue to evolve with the nation’s space program.

"NASA is currently in the closing discussions of what's going to come after the space shuttle program. And it’s the space launch system," Scheuermann says. "We’re very confident that space launch system is going to have liquid engines, which is what Stennis Space Center does, to test. And those engines are going to be showing up here again for the next several decades, just like Apollo, like shuttle. And we’ll keep people busily employed in this region here for 30 or 40 years."

No layoffs are planned at Stennis. More than 5,000 people work at the Stennis complex.

Scheuermann said Stennis will continue to keep Mississippi connected to the forefront of space exploration. 

"We have an incredible set of opportunities that are here. Not only do we have the NASA mission that we’re on the ciritical path to get us beyond low earth orbit at the next destination, be it back to the moon, or on to Mars or some Deep Space rendezvous with an asteroid. We’re gonna be on the front end of developing those rocket engines," Scheuermann said.

At the Stennis visitors center, children and adults catch the excitement of space exploration. Jarah Lewis is an elementary  teacher  from Dallas, Texas.

"I hope they continue the space program and I think space is a good place for us to explore. I would love to see more space in the schools, too. And the kids in school love all of the space activities that you could possibly do.," Lewis says.

At Stennis, the excitement of space is in the daily work. For example, Stennis is currently working on a project  to test engines for a company called Orbital Sciences. Those engines will help deliver cargo to the International Space Station. 


 Lewis taught science in her elementary classroom  and said she’d like to see more space shuttles launched.

 Cargo to the space station. Maybe some of those children visiting stennis space center will one day be working on the next project going into space.

Rhonda Miller. MPB News. Biloxi.



A model of a space shuttle is at the Stennis visitors center. Stennis Space Center tests engines used for the shuttle.



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