April 25, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 25, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) highlighted Alabama’s critical contributions to the next era of American space exploration during a recent hearing of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

As NASA prepares to send Americans back to the Moon for the first time since 1972, Senator Britt emphasized how the hard work and ingenuity of Alabamians at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville have been essential to the space program. More than 50 years after the center’s engineers developed the Apollo program’s Saturn V rocket, Marshall is now powering new space achievements and missions that shatter the bounds of what humanity once thought was possible.

“They have created a legacy of excellence. The men and women there have put in the work to literally take us to new heights, and we are all better for it,” said Senator Britt in her remarks.

On November 16, 2022, NASA successfully launched the Space Launch System (SLS) for the first time during Artemis I. The unmanned mission served as an extensive test flight for SLS, which is the most powerful rocket in world history – and was designed by Marshall’s engineers. Marshall is also charged by NASA with leading management of and testing for the SLS program.

“Tens of thousands of very talented and smart people throughout the country – including in my home state of Alabama – were responsible for a flawless SLS launch. I am deeply proud of what they have accomplished, and I’m very interested in making sure we keep this momentum going,” Senator Britt stated.

The Artemis II mission, scheduled for 2024, will take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit for the first time since the end of the Apollo program. Artemis III, scheduled for 2025, will put an American back on the Moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972. Artemis IV in 2028 will set the stage for NASA to continue missions to the lunar surface on an annual basis, and the program ultimately aims to reach Mars and additional milestones in deep space exploration.

“NASA has set a bold vision for the future, one defined by innovation and exploration throughout the heavens,” Administrator Nelson said in his testimony before the subcommittee.

During the hearing, Senator Britt questioned Administrator Nelson about the level of funding needed to keep the Artemis program on schedule and meet NASA’s lofty goals. As in the past, Marshall’s nearly 7,000 employees in North Alabama are essential to the success of American space exploration.

“We have to take advantage of the progress we have made and the workforce that has been built over the years. We need to be preparing now for a more sustained cadence of launches for Artemis IV, V, and beyond,” Senator Britt remarked.

“There will be a new generation of boys and girls across America who look up to the Moon at night, knowing that walking its surface is not just a dream but a reality,” Senator Britt added. “Once again, it will be thanks to the innovation, grit, and determination of Alabamians that our nation not only expands the limits of human achievement – but quite literally grows the imagination of what one day might and will be possible.”