By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) said in a statement on Facebook, “On this day 55 years ago, President Eisenhower dedicated the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The center has been at the forefront of America’s space and science exploration ever since. Happy Anniversary.”
The Marshall Spaceflight Center itself posted on Twitter and Facebook, “On this day in 1960, Pres. Dwight Eisenhower dedicated #NASAMarshall, paving the way for our contributions to the U.S. space program through support for Saturn V rockets, #Apollo, #Skylab, #Hubble, #SpaceShuttle and now — NASA’s Space Launch System.”
On March 15, 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) signed an executive order officially naming the new space center the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center. General George C. Marshall was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during World War II. He selected then Major Eisenhower for a series of promotions that eventually led him to being the top allied officer in the European Theatre. Following the war, Marshall served as Secretary of State for the Harry S. Truman (D) Administration where he won the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Marshall Plan that provided aid to Europe to recover from World War II. Also on March 16, 1960 Eisenhower signed an executive order transferring the Saturn rocket program from the Army to NASA. On September 8, President Eisenhower visited Huntsville, Ala. to dedicate the new NASA field center. The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center was placed under the direction of former German rocket scientist Dr. Wernher Von Braun. As part of his remarks dedicating the center, President Eisenhower referred to General Marshall as a “man of war, yet a builder of peace.”
The Marshall Space Flight Center was tasked with building the Saturn V rocket that launched man to the moon in 1969. Marshall has been heavily involved in numerous NASA missions including the Apollo landings on the surface of the moon, Skylab, the Space Shuttle program that carried a generation of Americans into space, the Hubble Telescope which has revolutionized astronomy, and the Space Launch System which has the potential to possibly get man to Mars.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the military’s Redstone Arsenal have over the last 60+ years transformed Huntsville from a farming and textiles community to one of the foremost aerospace and technology hubs in the entire world.
Bloomberg News recently reported that 16.7 percent of workers in the greater Huntsville metropolitan area hold a job in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), the third most technical workforce in the country after San Jose, California and Framingham, Massachusetts.
Also on Tuesday, NASA announced that the first Orion spacecraft which will fly on the Space Launch System (SLS) is currently being assembled at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.
The Orion crew module will fly atop NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on a mission beyond the far side of the moon.
The deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington Bill Hill said, “Every day, teams around the country are moving at full speed to get ready for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), when we’ll flight test Orion and SLS together in the proving ground of space, far away from the safety of Earth. We’re progressing toward eventually sending astronauts deep into space.”
Orion Project Manager Mark Geyer said, “Each of Orion’s systems and subsystems is assembled or integrated onto the primary structure, so starting to weld the underlying elements together is a critical first manufacturing step. The team has done tremendous work to get to this point and to ensure we have a sound building block for the rest of Orion’s systems.”
NASA’s prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft is Lockheed Martin.
The SLS which will launch the Orion spacecraft is being designed by a team of engineers at Marshall.
Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) represents Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District.