Press Release

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Honored by Alabama Legislature; Lawmakers Learn About Journey to Mars

By SpaceRef Editor
April 9, 2015
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The Alabama Legislature honored NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, today and heard about work on the Space Launch System and other technology being developed to carry explorers deeper into space than ever before, to asteroids and on to Mars.

Marshall Center Director Patrick Scheuermann, astronaut Scott Tingle, and Robert Hillan, a high-school senior from Enterprise, Alabama, met with Gov. Robert Bentley, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and other officials during “NASA Alabama Aerospace Day” at the Alabama State House in Montgomery. They also visited the Alabama House and Senate Chambers, where proclamations were read recognizing NASA and the Marshall Center’s contributions to the state’s economy, education and history, as well as to the nation’s space program.

“We’re very proud to continue a partnership with the State of Alabama that began with the creation of the Marshall Center in 1960,” Scheuermann said. “Here, together, we made it possible for mankind to take the first steps into space and onto the surface of the moon. Today, together, we are building the rockets and making discoveries that will make it possible for explorers to stand on Mars.”

Marshall has always made partnerships a priority and is a well-known leader in efforts to promote the participation of small business in NASA’s programs. On April 7, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden honored Marshall with the Small Business Administrator’s Cup — the fourth time the center has earned the cup in the award’s seven-year history.

“I am very proud the Marshall team has again been recognized for reaching out to work with the small business community across Alabama and the country,” Scheuermann said. “We know that, in addition to creating jobs and benefiting the economy, partnerships with small businesses are essential to our mission success.”

The theme of the 2015 NASA Alabama Aerospace Day and activities is “Join us on the journey.” NASA’s mission success depends on a partnership among government, industry, business and academia to develop the technology and skills needed for a journey to Mars, and for the ongoing journey of discovery.

Hillan, though still in high school, is helping develop the skills and technology that will enable deep-space missions. He was the first-place winner in the national Future Engineers 3-D Printing in Space Tool Challenge in January. Later this year he will visit the Marshall Center to watch, alongside mission controllers in the Payload Operations Integration Center, as his Multipurpose Precision Maintenance Tool is 3-D printed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s space travelers,” said Niki Werkheiser, 3-D print project manager at the Marshall Center. “The tool Robert designed and the tests we are doing aboard the space station are the first steps toward the 3-D print-on-demand kind of ‘machine shop’ that we must have on long-duration space missions.”

NASA Alabama Aerospace day is part of 2015 Aerospace Week activities that included visits by Marshall Center representatives to schools and Boys and Girls Clubs in Montgomery, and a career fair April 7 at Alabama State University.

On April 8, the Alabama-NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Procurement Suppliers Conference was presented by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and the Alabama State University Small Business Development Center. Marshall Center managers spoke about how businesses can partner with NASA for work on the Space Launch System and other programs.

For more information about the Marshall Center earning NASA’s Small Business Administrator’s Cup, visit:

 For more information about NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, visit:



SpaceRef staff editor.