Marshall director to lawmakers: Space exploration part of Alabama's past and future

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Marshall Space Flight Center Acting Director Gene Goldman said the center that helped take people to the moon is working again to explore deeper space.

“Marshall is still making history and making an impact on Alabama and our world,” Goldman said in an address to lawmakers

Lawmakers today honored Marshall for its role in space exploration and for its economic impact in Alabama. Legislators presented a resolution honoring Marshall. Goldman spoke to a joint session of the Senate and House saying that “our past accomplishments and our future successes are intertwined.”

“With your support, Marshall Space Flight Center pledges to keep making history every day, exploring space, learning more about our planet, inspiring the youth who will take our place, improving the quality of life for all and making Alabama proud,” Goldman said.

Goldman said Marshall has a $2.9 billion economic impact, according to a 2009 study. With 5,500 government and contract workers, it is the third largest employer in Huntsville with 90 percent of employees having a four-year college degree or higher.

The center that developed the Saturn V moon rocket in the 1960s, Goldman said, is now developing NASA’s new Space Launch System designed to “take us exploring again beyond Earth’s orbit with people and robots in ways that aren’t possible today.”

Marshall is leading the design and the development of the SLS, aheavy-lift launch vehicle that NASA says will eventually take humans to destinations such as Mars.

Goldman said Marshall is not just about rocket development. Marshall scientists used satellite data to track the path of destruction from last year’s tornado outbreak. Marshall also helped track and study the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Goldman told lawmakers that Marshall is part of the state’s heritage and one of its valuable resources, “no less valuable to the future of Alabama than our waterways and coastline — our farms and auto industry – our educational institutions and our culture.”

As part of the celebration, NASA exhibits dotted the hallways of the the State House. A space shuttle engine was parked in front of the State House.

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Marshall director to lawmakers: Space exploration part of Alabama's past and future

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