Plans for Stennis Space Center to build out an 1,100-acre technology corridor have sparked interest among possible partners, and one of the space center’s top officials sees the corridor as a way for Stennis to continue fulfilling its promise of regional economic development.
Randy Galloway, the center’s deputy director, said the recent call to “non-federal partners” to help develop the corridor, which will be called “Enterprise Park,” drew interest from 16 “entities” and 58 people.
“So, a good bit of interest,” Galloway told reporters gathered at Stennis this week to listen to acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot outline the space agency’s proposed $19.9 billion budget for fiscal year 2019.
Galloway said Stennis is in line for $132.6 million in the proposed 2019 budget, which is down from the $174 million in the 2018 budget but “more in line with normal years’ budgets.”
He said years where there is a lot of construction of facilities tend to bump higher.
Stennis, which encompasses thousands of acres – much of it undeveloped – just across the state line in Hancock County, Miss., is the nation’s largest rocket engine test facility. The facility was the site of testing for the Saturn V rocket engines that took humans to the moon in the Apollo program, as well as for the Space Shuttle. It currently is the site of testing for the RS-25 rocket engines for the Space Launch System’s deep-space missions, including carrying humans to the Moon and Mars.
During a question-and-answer session, Galloway said he believes there has been a “renaissance” in space exploration, driven in part by private companies. He noted billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, saying their space exploration interests “reach people in a way NASA doesn’t.”
“There is a market now for space,” he said.
And for the companies that support those involved in space exploration.
Some 5,000 people work for companies at Stennis, which is also a federal city home to more than 40 federal, state, academic and commercial companies, the agency says.
The missions of those companies are “world-impacting,” Galloway said.
Stennis recently put out a notice that it would seek businesses involved in space exploration, technology and other uses to support existing companies at Stennis. The space center envisions Enterprise Park to involve “companies that are more or less in alignment with NASA’s mission and with the companies we already have on site,” Don Beckmeyer, Stennis’ manager of strategic business development, said earlier this year.
Galloway said not only is testing rocket engines for space exploration the mission at Stennis, but so is economic development.
“Not just for Mississippi, but for Louisiana as well,” he said. “It’s…