In just one week, Huntsville hosted separate visits by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. President Trump’s visit heralded great fanfare, as is befitting a sitting U.S. President, yet it was Pence’s visit that provided an insight into Huntsville’s near future.
The Vice President slipped into the Rocket City on Monday for a behind the scenes look at operations on Redstone Arsenal. The visit included NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center where Pence chatted live with astronauts aboard the International Space Station and later checked out the Space Launch System’s mighty booster test stand to inspect an engine section. Pence stopped to ask NASA employees about their roles and challenges and delighted the crowd by pausing to pose for selfie photos.
It would have been a typical courtesy tour except for the interesting comments the Vice President made along the way.
“Stay. It’s about to get exciting,” he said to NASA’s veteran workers.
To the astronauts, he pledged, “America is determined to lead once again, not just in Low-Earth Orbit, but once again leading the world in space exploration.”
Pence went on to ask the astronauts questions about science experiments conducted on board the ISS – experiments that help us learn how to live in space and improve our quality of life here on earth. Experiments designed by scientists and researchers at HudsonAlpha and UAH. Future experiments we haven’t dreamed of yet. To which Pence announced a $200 million dollar infusion into STEM education.
“Dream Big,” said the astronauts.
The exchange with the Vice President is timely. Pence chairs the newly reinvigorated National Space Council, which will convene in the next few weeks to advise the President on national space policy and strategy.
When President Trump announced this summer he was reviving the National Space Council, Pence said: “Welcome to a new era of American leadership in space. We will return our nation to the moon. We will go to Mars, and we will go still further to places that our children’s children can only imagine.”
Huntsville’s role is pivotal in the journey to outer space. Redstone Arsenal is critical to the defense of our nation and the free world. The Rocket City’s expanding aerospace and defense industries have positioned us a global leader in space exploration.
Like the Vice President said, “Stay. It’s about to get exciting.”