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Partners for Stennis on the Move in Washington, D.C.

Partners for Stennis on the Move in Washington, D.C.

In May 2013, members of Partners for Stennis embarked on an advocacy trip to Washington DC in an effort to promote projects that will benefit John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. One of those projects includes modifications to the testing facility’s B Test Stand that will prepare it to test the next generation of space flight engines.

Stennis Space Center is a testing facility with capabilities to test the largest rocket engines and components, due to its unique location in a 138,500 acre site that includes waterway and roadway transportation infrastructure essential for rocket testing. During it’s more than four decades of operation the facility tested engines for the Apollo and the Space Shuttle programs. Modifications are under way on the facility’s B test stand to allow it to perform tests for the next generation of engines for the Space Launch System by 2016.

In addition Stennis is home to commercial entities that test their own engines. Such companies include Rolls Royce, A2 Research and Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne. Rocket testing is not the only work that goes on at Stennis; the federal city is also home to many federal agencies that conduct work ranging from special operations training of Special Boat Team 22 to weather analysis at the National Buoy Center.  About 60 percent of Stennis’ workforce has an Associate’s degree or higher.

“NASA and Stennis Space Center conduct important work, not only for governmental agencies, but in the private sector as well,” said Chairman Al Watkins. “Stennis and the INFINITY Science Center are vital components in the South Mississippi and Louisiana regions’ promotion of education in the fields of Science Technology Engineering and Math. Education in those fields, and the economic opportunities they will bring, will ensure our citizens maintain a high quality of life.”

Partners for Stennis works to ensure funding is maintained for Stennis Space Center by informing stakeholders of the $654 million in economic impact and future opportunities the facility offers. Part of that economic impact involves employing about 5,000 residents who live in the south Mississippi and Louisiana region.

“Job creation and retention is an important aspect of Stennis Space Center for the south Mississippi and Louisiana region,” said Executive Director Tish Williams. “Continued funding of this facility will solidify its foothold as one of the largest employers in the region as NASA ensures America remains a leader in the future of space travel as they develop the Space Launch System.”

Each year members of Partners for Stennis travel to Washington DC to share the accomplishments of Stennis and promote future opportunities. During the most recent trip Partners members Mark Schloegel of Stewart Sneed Hewes, Guy Johnson of Coast Electric Power Association, Executive Director Tish Williams, Partners Chairman - Al Watkins of A2Research, Michael McDaniel of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Laura Knox of Knox Consulting LLC met with 13 congressional officers for Mississippi and Louisiana in addition to Senator Roger Wicker, Senator David Vitter and Congressman Stephen Palazzo to talk about future opportunities and growth at Stennis and STEM funding for INFINITY. Partners also conduct outreach by inviting federal representatives to visit and tour the facility.