Lagniappe for July 2024 – NASA

  • NASA Stennis Achieves Primary Success for Historic In-Space Mission
  • Mississippi Comic Convention Experiences NASA
  • NASA Stennis Hosts Take Our Children to Work Day

Conversations filled the room with anticipation for the day ahead.

NASA’s Stennis Space Center hosted Take Our Children to Work Day on June 27 with a day set aside for children of employees to see up close the work carried out at NASA Stennis by its diverse workforce.

A video featuring NASA Stennis Associate Director Rodney McKellip welcomed the enthusiastic crowd. He shared about the different hats worn by the more than 5,000 employees throughout the NASA Stennis federal city.

There are engineers who help make the south Mississippi NASA center the premier rocket engine test facility in the country. NASA Stennis, the place that tested rocket stages to put the first humans on the Moon, remains on the frontlines of preparing NASA and the United States for its return to the Moon through the Artemis campaign to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.

Those attending Take Our Children to Work Day learned how NASA Stennis has many rocket scientists and test engineers carrying out this work, but that is not all.

A team of folks, including accountants, lawyers, environmental specialists, educators, and public affairs specialists, wear the NASA hat to ensure mission success too.

There also are teams climbing on test stands, installing rocket engines into the stands, working with piping, electrical, welding, construction projects, safety inspections, and more.

In addition to being the premier propulsion test site supporting NASA’s mission, NASA Stennis is where commercial companies experience success and benefit from the expertise of NASA personnel. Companies like Relativity Space, Rocket Lab, and Evolution Space have established ongoing operations at NASA Stennis as the commercialization of space continues.

The NASA Stennis federal city also includes a range agencies, universities, and companies sharing costs and carrying out individual missions.

It is the command site for the largest collection of oceanographers in the world and where Navy Seals train. 

Participants learned about such operations from a panel of employees from NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3 Harris Technologies company, Lockheed Martin, and Relativity Space.

They toured NASA Stennis and participated in activities facilitated by NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the National Data Buoy Center. 

The NASA Stennis associate director left them with a final thought before their day started: If you hear something loud during the day, just know that is the sound of progress at the nation’s premier rocket propulsion test facility and federal city known as NASA Stennis.

Sure enough, that afternoon, the unmistakable sound of engine testing could be heard across the site. For this ol‘ Gator, it sounds like music to the ears.

NASA’s Stennis Space Center and partner Sidus Space Inc. announced primary mission success July 2 for the center’s historic in-space mission – an autonomous systems payload aboard an orbiting satellite.

Science fiction fans at the Mississippi Comic Convention were provided an out-of-this world experience, while learning about NASA, during the two-day event in Jackson, Mississippi, thanks to employees from NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

“I’ve never been to an outreach activity that you reached so many people and from such a wide spectrum of people, from grade schoolers to retired grandparents,” said Troy Frisbie, NASA Stennis legislative affairs officer and chief of staff. “We interacted with a wide audience and really shared how NASA and NASA Stennis benefit all. It was a really, really good experience.”

The NASA booth, at an event that attracted 18,000 people to the Mississippi Trade Mart and Coliseum on June 22-23, featured an immersive experience with virtual reality goggles. Participants were able to view an engine test conducted at NASA Stennis, take a virtual spacewalk while visiting the International Space Station, and experience a simulated rocket launch to Mars.

One group enjoying the interaction with NASA was the Star Trek fan club from Jackson, Mississippi.

“They were real big supporters of NASA,” Frisbie said. “They loved the virtual reality experience and encouraged others at the convention to come by and visit with us.”

NASA Stennis budget analyst Rebecca Mataya and engineers Paul Fuller, Steven Helmstetter, and Chris Barnett-Woods volunteered with Frisbie. The center employees talked to college students majoring in engineering, graphic design, architecture, education, and healthcare.

“The assumption is everybody has to be an engineer to work at NASA, and that is not the case,” Frisbie said. “There are all kinds of opportunities, and that was an eye opener for many.”

Conversations centered on job opportunities and careers with NASA, as well as work conducted at NASA Stennis. The volunteers also fielded general questions about NASA’s powerful SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and the agency’s Artemis campaign of returning astronauts to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation of explorers: the Artemis Generation.

“We enjoyed telling the NASA story and how NASA Stennis on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi serves as an economic engine that contributes to this nation’s space dreams,” Frisbie added.

Chris Barnett-Woods’ favorite movie growing up – Back to the Future – led him to dream of one day building a DeLorean automobile. Instead, the electrical engineer is doing something never imagined as he helps NASA support the commercialization of space for the benefit of all.

Lagniappe is published monthly by the Office of Communications at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. The NASA Stennis office may be contacted by at 228-688-3333 (phone); (email); or NASA OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS, Attn: LAGNIAPPE, Mail code IA00, Building 1111 Room 173, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529 (mail).

The Lagniappe staff includes: Managing Editor Lacy Thompson, Editor Bo Black, and photographer Danny Nowlin.

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