Earlier today, I got a first-hand look at the future of space exploration during a visit to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The new 6.75 million-ton Mobile Launcher is one more tangible step on our path forward to launching deep space missions.
When I was at Kennedy a little more than two months ago, I joined the dedicated team there in celebrating the achievements of our space shuttle program as it concluded an amazing 30 years of ground-breaking exploration and discovery. Since then, we have made great strides toward implementing the bipartisan vision agreed to by President Obama and Congress just one year ago.
o We continued to work on the Orion spacecraft, the next vehicle in which astronauts will travel into deep space.
o We’ve launched exciting science missions.
o We expanded our agreements with our American commercial partners who are making great strides toward transporting cargo and crew to the International Space Station.
o We’ve established a non-profit – located in the Space Coast – to manage the U.S. portion of the International Space Station.
o We made significant progress on upgrading our ground-based operations here at KSC to support a range of launch activities, including commercial and deep space launches.
o And we announced our plan forward with a Space Launch System, our heavy lift rocket.
And today, we got to see the progress Kennedy is making with the new Mobile Launcher, which will be carried to Launch Pad 39B, a modernized clean pad that will launch those missions to the ISS and farther destinations.
The Mobile Launcher is tangible evidence of our bright future and the critical path forward we are on to new destinations and new exploration achievements. It was built in large part by a Florida company, and it represents the jobs of the future as we continue to move toward reinvigorating Kennedy’s world-class launch capabilities.
All around Kennedy, from the Operations and Checkout facility for the Orion multipurpose crew vehicle, to the establishment of a Commercial Crew program office to the ongoing science launches that regularly take-off here, it is clear the Space Coast is open for business and ready for a bright future.
As we’ve ramped up our work on the Orion multipurpose crew vehicle, for example, we brought on more than 250 workers at the Operations and Checkout facility – bringing that number to more than 350 in 2012.
This is also further proof that as our nation looks for ways to compete and win in the 21st century, NASA continues to be an engine of job growth and economic opportunity. From California to Florida, the space industry is strong and growing.
The history of NASA is tied to Florida. The next generation of explorers will not fly a space shuttle, but they may be able to walk on Mars. And those journeys are starting at the Kennedy Space Center today.
Administrator Bolden speaks in front of the Mobile Launcher at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.