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Opinion | Supporting our space programs

By U.S. Rep. Martha Roby

The week of February 18th is Alabama Aerospace Week in Montgomery. NASA and other organizations will be in town to discuss our state’s role in the space industry and to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers to consider careers in the aerospace field. One of the events is NASA Day at Alabama State University, and I am excited to be attending. NASA’s top level administrators and an astronaut will be present to share with students the many opportunities as well as great things taking place within the organization.

As you may know, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is very important to our state’s economy. Marshall supports approximately 22,000 jobs in Alabama and provides $3.8 billion in economic impact. On top of this, more than half of Marshall’s contracts are sourced in-state, yielding an additional $1.4 billion in economic activity. I recently had the opportunity to meet with some companies who work on the Space Launch System (SLS) Program managed at Marshall. Of the jobs supported by NASA in Alabama, the SLS Program supports 13,000 of them and generates $2.4 billion in economic output. I was pleased to learn more about the vital work they perform.

Our state is rightfully proud of the key role we play in the space program, and I am encouraged that the Trump Administration has made it clear that they are committed to supporting NASA’s growth. In December, on the 45th anniversary of the last man-led mission to the moon, the President signed the Space Policy Directive One which directs NASA to send humans back to the moon. As you probably know, Alabama played a crucial role in the Apollo Mission that first sent man to the moon. NASA is currently working to lay the groundwork for future space exploration and life-sustaining research that would not be possible without this long-term commitment.

Additionally, in the Administration’s 2019 budget proposal, the NASA budget request is $19.9 billion, which is a funding increase of $370 million. Serving on the House Appropriations Committee gives me the opportunity to push for priorities that are important to our state and district. On the Appropriations Committee, I sit on the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Subcommittee, which oversees funding for a number of important issues, including NASA. I’m proud to have this position to work with the Trump Administration and my colleagues in Congress to advance NASA’s priorities.

NASA has already achieved so much, and with the support of the Administration, Congress, and hardworking people, including many Alabamians, I am confident they will be able to accomplish so much more. It will be up to the next generation of engineers, scientists, and explorers to continue pushing NASA’s legacy – in our state and throughout the world – past the boundaries to expand this program into something far greater than anything we could have imagined. I am looking forward to meeting some of these bright, young students at NASA Day in Montgomery!

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.

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