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Congressman Mo Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Alabama

Congressman Mo Brooks Applauds Marshall Leading Artemis Lunar Lander Development

August 16, 2019
Press Release

Huntsville, AL— Friday, in the shadow of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket test stand at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) joined NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in announcing that Marshall will lead design and development of the Artemis program lunar lander, the vehicle that will transport astronauts from the Moon-orbiting Gateway space station to the Moon’s surface. Congressman Brooks and Administrator Bridenstine were joined by Congressmen Robert Aderholt (AL-04) and Scott DesJarlais (TN-04).

NASA's Artemis program goal is to land Americans on the Moon by 2024 and establish a permanent American Moon exploration base.

NASA announced on July 23rd that Marshall’s Dr. Lisa Watson-Morgan, a Huntsville native, Butler High School graduate, 30-year engineering veteran and top Marshall engineer, will manage the lunar lander program.

Click on the above image or HERE for

video of Congressman Brooks’ remarks

“We greatly appreciate the support shown here today by our representatives in Congress for NASA’s Artemis program and America’s return to the Moon, where we will prepare for our greatest feat for humankind – putting astronauts on Mars,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We focus on a ‘One NASA’ integrated approach that uses the technical capabilities of many centers. Marshall has the right combination of expertise and experience to accomplish this critical piece of the mission.”

Congressman Brooks’ complete remarks follow:

It is a pleasure to be here at the Marshall Space Flight Center with you today.

Sometimes you have unexpected results from political battles. I don’t know if you are aware, but we many decades ago had a political fight. There was a national infrastructure program that was going to be built somewhere and our community lost. The wind tunnel ended up in Tullahoma, Tennessee. We came in second and the second-place prize was a bunch of German rocket scientists. Gosh, have we made the best of that losing proposition in our community? Those German rocket scientists in the early 60s at the instance of John F. Kennedy and the mission to the Moon that he was able to get underway, put us in a position where we were able to do as a nation something no other nation had done.

Now by way of backdrop, I grew up in this community and I well remember not too many distances from here, yards, miles, we had the Apollo rockets tested on a regular basis. And, I’m two to three miles to the east of us, in our house, in South Huntsville and the earth would shake, the dishes would rattle in the cabinet, sometimes things would fall out, and that is one of my earliest memories as a young man living in Huntsville, Alabama.

I very well remember in 1969, when all that work that we put in the space program came to fruition with, 50 years ago, our landing on the Moon and the pride that I felt in America and the inspiration I felt about American exceptionalism and the role that we played in this community and the Tennessee Valley and the Marshall Space Flight Center, quite frankly, being the birthplace of America’s space program, hence the name Rocket City.

Fast forward a little bit to today. Today is a great day for the Tennessee Valley and the Marshall Space flight center. It is a great day in large part because of another political decision akin to John F. Kennedy’s in the 1960s. We have decided that we as a country are going to do something that only one other country in history has done and that other country was us, and we did it a half century ago. No other country has been able to do it in 50 years what we were able to accomplish in the 1960s and that is to go back to the Moon and put a facility on the South Pole, have a space station that is able to revolve around the Moon in lunar orbit and send astronauts to rendezvous with that space station as a place to stop before going to the Moon, landing on the Moon, doing the research that we are going to do on the Moon, getting back on that space station and then heading back to Earth.

That is an incredible achievement that we seek on behalf of our country and I am thankful that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine recognized the talent that we have here in the Tennessee Valley and the Marshall Space Flight Center, particularly the intellectual talent. Many of you may not know this, but we have the highest concentration of engineers in the United States of America. We have scientists, we have physicists, we have mathematicians, we have what we had in the 1960s, and that is the brainpower to take on this mission and to get it done. So, Jim, thank you so much for recognizing our community and what we have to offer for the United States of America in this endeavor.

Now let me talk about Artemis just a little bit. Certainly, it helps that we have got a President of the United States that sees the value of this effort not only to the United States of America, but also human kind, and the scientific advancement that is going to go with that. But it is also important that we have congressmen and senators who are willing to put together the funding that is necessary to make this happen and the funding is significant.

We are talking about, in the first year, roughly $1.6 billion to make sure that we are on track to return to the moon by 2024. Over that five-year period we are looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 to $30 billion, and let me emphasize, that has to be over and above what we are already spending on the science that NASA does, not only for our country, but also for the planet. That is a significant commitment, and I hope that Congress will be in a position to recognize the value, the advancements, that we are undoubtedly going to have, as we have had over the last 60 years for everything that NASA has done for us.

On a more microscopic level, what is that going to do for the Tennessee Valley and the Marshall Space Flight Center? The project that is being announced today, that Jim Bridenstine has selected for our community, is roughly 360 jobs, roughly 140 that will be at Marshall Space Flight Center, with your other 220 spread out, as it should be, amongst various other NASA centers throughout the United States of America. For emphasis, each of those centers offer something to this mission and I thank them for the involvement that they are going to have, but I also thank NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for selecting our community for taking the lead role.

And I think it is poetic that the birthplace of America’s space program, is also the birthplace of the project manager who is going to lead this effort and coordinate those 360 employees with Lisa Watson-Morgan. She was born in our community.  I think that is fantastic. she went to Butler High School.  She got an engineering degree from the University of Alabama. That is a little bit of oddity, around here that is normally from Auburn, but Alabama is also known to have a good engineering school and that is not necessarily well-known around the United States of America. So, I want to thank her for the achievements and the success that she has had in the past that shows that she is fully capable of taking on this major project so that we can successfully return humanity to the moon and back and learn a whole lot along the way.

So, Jim, thank you for everything that you are doing to advance NASA and the space program. Good luck with the mission you are going to have as the new project manager.

God Bless and God Speed.