Vice President Pence Visits NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

©NASA TV

Vice President Pence

Vice President Mike Pence offered his thanks Monday to employees working on NASA's human spaceflight programs during a tour of the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Vice President saw the progress being made on NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), the world's most powerful deep space rocket, that will send astronauts on missions around the Moon and ultimately to Mars. He also visited Marshall's Payload Operations Integration Center, where the agency manages all research aboard the International Space Station.

"Today, I met pioneers who are helping America travel into the unknown and expand our knowledge for the benefit of the nation," said Vice President Pence. "I'm inspired by the people at Marshall, and NASA as a whole, who are passionate and dedicated to space exploration. The massive hardware and innovative technologies we are building will propel us far beyond our home planet and allow America to lead in space again."

From Marshall's science command center, Vice President Pence called the NASA astronauts aboard the space station and spoke with Expedition 53 commander Randy Bresnik, and flight engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba. This is the first White House-level call to the International Space Station from Marshall. He also met with the ground controllers that provide around-the-clock support of the crew's scientific activities on the orbiting laboratory, paving the way for future deep space exploration missions.

"The work underway today at Marshall, supporting station science and with SLS, is integral to ensuring this nation's incredible global leadership in human exploration," said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. "Vice President Pence now has personally visited three NASA centers in the last four months, and I deeply appreciate the Vice President's strong commitment to our space exploration mission."

The Vice President toured the SLS engineering facility where the engine section of the rocket's massive core stage is undergoing a major stress test. The rocket's four RS-25 engines and the two solid rocket boosters that attach to the SLS engine section will produce more than 8 million pounds of thrust to launch the Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit. More than 3,000 measurements using sensors installed on the test section will help ensure the core stage for all SLS missions can withstand the extreme forces of flight.

"The work we are doing today is paving the way for a new generation of astronauts to travel farther into space than humans have ever ventured before," said Marshall Center Director Todd May, who hosted the visit. "This next chapter in the story of our national space program is being written by the men and women of Marshall, who keep us on the leading edge of spaceflight and truly make this the Rocket City."

The Vice President concluded his visit with a tour of U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center for briefs from Army leaders on current missile defense projects and Army initiatives. Redstone Arsenal, where Marshall is located, is an Army installation with a workforce of around 41,000 active duty military, government civilians, and contractors. The arsenal is a federal center of excellence hosting components of more than 70 government organizations, including NASA, Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, FBI, and Department of Justice.

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