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OPINION: History made again from Stennis

STENNIS – 50 years of rocket testing in rural Hancock County will lead into the latest era of spaceflight and ushers in a new period of history as humans pioneer interplanetary exploration.

Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is home to test sights that prove the capabilities of NASA’s most trusted (and powerful) rocket engines. Thursday, technicians held a 420 second burn of the RS-25 rocket.

It’s the same design that propelled the Space Shuttle and it will now power the new Space Launch System (SLS).

 

NASA has plans for an unmanned orbit around the moon (what they call the Proving Grounds) in 2018, with manned missions stretching closer to Mars beginning in the 20’s, culminating in the first landing of a human being on the red planet sometime in the early 30’s.

The role of Stennis is often undervalued by the public, but in the realm of spaceflight it is a place of mythic status. Secluded within hundreds of thousands of acres of pine-forest acoustical buffer zones, legendary machines are built and tested every day. The facility is actually a small town, with a fire station, privately-owned restaurants, living facilities and even a post office.

It’s also a place where you can see events that produce half-a-million pounds of force at temperatures of 6000 degrees Fahrenheit, a number hotter than boiling iron.

In the end, the event was a massive success with an overwhelming amount of data collected that will ensure the safety of the Earth’s most intrepid pioneers as they reach for a goal that humans have only dreamed of. Thursday’s test may have been another giant leap for mankind, but it’s just another day at the office for Stennis.

 

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