NASA Snubs Houston for Lunar Project


Huntsville, we have a problem.

NASA has chosen the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama over Houston's Johnson Space Center to lead development of a lunar landing system for the Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 and ultimately establish a permanent presence on the lunar surface. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine made the announcement at a news conference in Huntsville, explaining that the Marshall Center specializes in propulsion, which is a key part of the lunar landing project. Bridenstine also noted the JSC will still play a vital role in other aspects of the Artemis program, including development of a space station-like module to orbit the moon.

Still, the news was a letdown to Texas leaders. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, along with Congressman Brian Babin, had petitioned NASA to choose Johnson Space Center for the lunar landing project. "It's disappointing, we had hoped to get that," says Bob Mitchell, president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. "We were the ones that did it for Apollo and the moon landing, but as usual with things like this, sometimes politics get into play."

Mitchell notes that the JSC is not being left out entirely. "We will be doing the ascent part of the lunar landing here in Houston---it's about a third of the entire project," he tells KTRH. Indeed, Bridenstine noted that the lunar landing project will created 363 new jobs---including 140 in Huntsville and 87 at JSC.

In the meantime, Texas leaders can still focus on the bigger picture. "Someone needs to be in charge of the integration of the entire (Artemis) project, and that needs to be done at the Johnson Space Center," says Mitchell. "So we're hoping that our elected officials are now going to move forward in focusing on that big piece of the pie."

"The Johnson Space Center is healthy, it's strong, we're going to survive this," says Mitchell. "It's disappointing, but you've just got to move on, and that's what we're going to do."


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