By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, August 13, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center held a ribbon cutting event for Marshall’s newest building. U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R) from Huntsville and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama were there for the ribbon cutting ceremony at NASA’s Facility for the Space Launch System Program Office.
Rep. Mo Brooks and Senator Jeff Sessions were joined by Marshall Space Flight Center Director Patrick Scheuermann and NASA Deputy Director Teresa Vanhooser at the grand opening for NASA’s latest facility, which will house the Space Launch System (SLS) Program Office in Huntsville, AL. Building 4220 is the new five story home for 400 engineers who are developing NASA’s successor to the space shuttle. The SLS will give NASA unsurpassed heavy-lift capability and unrivaled payload volume. This capability will allow NASA to take heavier loads into higher earth orbits than the space shuttle could ever go and is essential to human missions to explore asteroids and makes possible future human missions to Mars.
Sen. Sessions said, “It’s sort of, in my mind, confirmation of the Space Launch System program that is going to lead us into exploration of the solar system.”
Director Scheuermann said, “The Space Launch System is going to be an incredible capability for the United States, it will get our astronauts farther than we’ve ever been, ever.”
Rep. Brooks said, “The heavy-lift capability that we will potentially have once this is up and rolling is just a tremendous advantage for our country, vis-à-vis, all of our international competitors. And remarkably, for any kind of Federal government program, SLS is five months ahead of schedule, on budget, and recently passed the Critical Design Review—all unprecedented feats for a program of this size, so thank you for what you are doing. And on the building side, to have put together a building that is going to decrease maintenance and operations costs by 65%, decrease utility costs by 35percent, on the budget constraints we face in Washington, DC, right now, that is very, very impressive.”
Rep. Brooks continued, “I will give you my pledge that as long as I am able, I will do everything I can to help ensure that this building is always fully staffed, that SLS is always fully funded, and we can do the things that need to be done to make sure that America is forever number one in space because it is that American exceptionalism that helps set us apart from everybody else. And I’m so proud of what you do here at Marshall, the capabilities you have shown in the past, and the capabilities that you are going to show in the future. So thank you for allowing me to be a part of Building 4220 ribbon cutting.”
According to a written statement by Rep. Brooks’ office, the new facility is a replacement for Building 4202, which is over 50 years old, and will soon be demolished. The new building was built for roughly half the cost of refurbishing the old building, and it is Marshall’s seventh building to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, cutting operation costs by 65% and utility costs by 35%. Following the retirement of Building 4202, furniture from that building was donated to local schools in need.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Brooks and Sessions toured NASA’s Propulsion Research and Development Laboratory (PRDL). Marshall’s PRDL houses state-of-the-art systems integration and thrust vector control test labs. This facility is being used by rocket propulsion designers as they run real-time launch vehicle simulations of SLS and other vehicles. PRDL has over 108,000 square feet of space and hosts 26 labs.