PEARLINGTON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is starting a new economic development effort to lure companies connected to space exploration.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant announced the Space Initiative on Monday during an event at Stennis Space Center in coastal Hancock County, where NASA rocket engines are tested.
The leader of the economic development effort will be Patrick Scheuermann, former head of Stennis Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center.
Bryant also announced the formation of a Mississippi National Guard Space Directorate. Its commander will be Col. Billy Murphy of the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 186th Air Operations Group.
A news release from the governor’s office says the directorate lines up with President Donald Trump’s Space Force Initiative, and will create and use space technology for defense and for disaster response.
(MS GOVERNOR’S OFFICE NEWS RELEASE) – Gov. Phil Bryant announced today a new economic development Space Initiative and the formation of the Mississippi National Guard Space Directorate. The event was held at the INFINITY Science Center in Hancock County.
“I am extremely excited about the two initiatives announced today,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “Mississippi has been a leader in the field of space for many years and I believe that we have the capabilities to attract other space companies to invest in the state and the ability through our National Guard to use space technology to aid in defense and disaster response.”
The purpose of establishing this Space Initiative is to create a specific entity to target space companies and attract them to the state. Patrick Scheuermann, former head of Stennis Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center, will be leading the initiative.
“The state of Mississippi has a long history of making key investments at Stennis Space Center to attract government, university and commercial customers to the Federal City,” Dr. Rick Gilbrech, the Director of Stennis Space Center said. “The new initiatives the Governor announced today will continue that tradition and bolster the Gulf Coast’s involvement in both civil, commercial and military space activities. These continued and future partnerships will also help NASA to achieve its objective with the Artemis mission to go forward to the Moon by 2024 and then on to Mars.”
The Mississippi National Guard Space Directorate will be commanded by Col. Billy Murphy of the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 186th Air Operations Group. He will integrate with current Space Commands, NASA, higher education institutions and aerospace industry partners. Col. Murphy will also develop a Space Task Force that will be responsible for conducting space operations. This Space Force will help ensure Mississippi’s and the United States’ success in the domain of space. It aligns with President Donald Trump’s Space Force initiative and will be used to create and utilize space technology to develop defense and disaster response strategies.
“The Mississippi National Guard is extremely confident that we can grow the space mission here in Mississippi to meet the needs of our nation and state,” said Maj. Gen. Boyles, Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard.
Chairman of Senate Commerce Committee Roger Wicker weighed in on the announcements stating: “The two announcements Governor Bryant made today are strong signals to our nation that the state of Mississippi is serious about space. These new commitments will ensure that the road to space continues to go through Mississippi. I am anticipating many more great accomplishments by the talented teams at Stennis Space Center and Mississippi’s Air National Guard.”
Congressman Steven Palazzo also praised the initiatives: “Given Mississippi’s history in space exploration, I applaud Governor Bryant for being a forward thinker on ways that Mississippi can continue playing a role in American space missions. The Mississippi National Guard is always there to support critical military operations and I’ve no doubt they will make important contributions to our nation’s security in space through the formation of the space directorate.”
The event was attended by elected officials, Stennis Space Center Staff, Relativity Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Jordan Noone, and business executives from around the state.
These announcements will allow new developments in space for Mississippi’s future endeavors in the domain.