WASHINGTON, D.C. -- NASA has chosen the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East to construct components of its new heavy-lift rocket, a decision that could mean the creation of thousands of jobs at the facility.
NASA unveiled the design of the rocket earlier this month, claiming it will be the largest, most powerful space rocket ever built.
“NASA’s selection of Michoud is big, big news for southeast Louisiana,” said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.
NASA says they will be building several components at MAF, including manufacturing core stage and upper stage, the instrument ring and integrating engines with core and upper stages.
The decision may mean thousands of jobs at Michoud, which lost most of its workforce after the end of the Space Shuttle program.
"I will say that the external tank at its peak employed about 2500 to 2800 people here in the facility," Steve Doering, NASA's director at Michoud, said on Sept. 14. "I don't see any reason to expect that we won't get back, if not at those numbers, somewhere close to those numbers."
Michoud was behind the assembly of the Saturn V rocket from the Apollo program and the Space Shuttle's external fuel tanks. Vitter said that gave the assembly facility a unique advantage in wooing NASA to choose New Orleans.
“Michoud is the only NASA facility that is currently ready to do the large manufacturing that will be required for the heavy-lift rocket," Vitter said. "I’ve been working for years with the Louisiana delegation to ensure Michoud remains well positioned for this kind of work, and with local companies in the high-tech Stennis-Michoud corridor to ensure the area remains a vital part of the space program.”
Congress still has to approve the project, which carries a price tag of up to $35 billion.