HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss.–Mississippi may be the first stop on the way to the final frontier. A new type of rocket engine will be tested at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County and the ribbon was cut Monday, making the program start official.
The SpaceX Raptor engine development program represents the latest in propulsion technology and will produce the largest methane/LOX engines in U.S. history, according to a news release from Gov. Bryant’s office. Raptor engine components will be tested at the E-2 test stand at Stennis, which SpaceX upgraded with methane capability under an engine testing agreement. The stand is now one of the most sophisticated high-pressure testing facilities in the world. It is capable of supporting many potential users and will remain the property of Stennis Space Center for future government and commercial use as needed.
“I think man will go to Mars and return safely one day and he’s gonna have to pass through Hancock County to get there,” Bryant told News Mississippi Monday.
“This is a private company that is testing their engines at Stennis. We’re very excited about it. I thinks it’s the future of NASA and we will help lead the way.”
He said he believes Stennis is one of Mississippi’s greatest assets.
“SpaceX is proud to bring the Raptor testing program to NASA’s Stennis Space Center and the great state of Mississippi,” said Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX. “In partnership with NASA, SpaceX has helped create one of the most advanced engine testing facilities in the world, and we look forward to putting the stand to good use.”
The Mississippi Development Authority provided assistance in support of the project for improvements to the E-2 test stand. The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission provided assistance, as well.
“Mississippi has a long, rich history in the aerospace industry. Today, SpaceX further strengthens the state’s position as an industry leader in the global aerospace sector and demonstrates to the world that Stennis is an ideal location for aerospace companies with sophisticated research and development needs ,” MDA Executive Director Brent Christensen said. “MDA is glad to have been a part of this project, and we appreciate our partners at the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission and at Stennis Space Center for helping us bring this great company to Mississippi.”
Stennis has been the site of rocket propulsion testing for NASA and the Dept. of Defense for more than forty years.