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Proposed NASA budget good for Huntsville and Marshall Space Flight Center

Published on May 24, 2017

The support for NASA in the proposed federal budget is both a sign of approval and a cause for optimism, believes Todd May, director of Marshall Space Flight Center.

“Our brand is strong and what we do at NASA resonates on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue,” May said, referring to support from both Congress and President Trump, as reflected in the budget.

NASA has been allocated $19.1 billion in President Trump’s budget, “which reflects the president’s confidence in our direction and the importance of everything we’ve been achieving,” acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot said.

Some $2.7 billion is budgeted to the Marshall Space Flight Center, with $1.9 billion of that directed toward the SLS deep-space launch program.

That’s fairly comparable to budgets in recent years, so jobs remain safe and, as May noted, there will be a continuing need for workers on the SLS/Orion program and with the International Space Station payload operation, where there will be double the demands on the staff this year.

“It’s a very stable budget,” May said.

What’s good for Marshall Space Flight Center is obviously good for its hometown.

“Marshall Space Flight Center has been a great partner for the City of Huntsville,” Mayor Tommy Battle said. “What happens at Marshall, and all over Redstone Arsenal, is a huge driver for our economy.

“What impresses me is that NASA seems to be the one thing they can agree on in Washington. This sort of bipartisan support is an overwhelming endorsement of the work that NASA is doing and where it’s headed. It’s exciting times ahead for America’s space program and I’m proud that Huntsville will continue to take a lead role.”

Battle says he looks forward to working with Alabama’s congressional delegation during the appropriations process to ensure NASA has all of the resources it needs to accomplish the mission.

May called Marshall employees “a uniquely skilled workforce (with) a fierce commitment” to space exploration.”

“I think Marshall is in great shape with this budget,” May said. “We can’t spell Marshall without Mars … We believe that the SLS and Orion that we are working on today is what’s going to really expand humankind’s frontier.”

Photo caption:  Marshall Space Flight Center Director Todd May addresses media on the proposed NASA budget.

May said there were no “major cuts,” and though the Office of Education might be eliminated, he said the commitment to education and the involvement with local schools will not cease. He said NASA and Marshall realize the need to continue outreach in the STEM areas of education to assure its future workforce.

Overall, the budget is “a validation of the work we’ve been doing,” May said.

“We’re making history once again at Marshall Space Flight Center.”