NEW ORLEANS -- It is a multi-million dollar decision that is expected to keep hundreds of jobs at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East.
Thursday in Washington, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved more than a billion dollars for the new space launch system at the NASA site, bringing hope to an area hungry for development.
"Customers can do this and bring it home and make their own sandwiches," said Hau Tran, handling a rush of dinner orders on Thursday night inside Matt's #2 Famous Po-boys and Chicken.
Tran runs the New Orleans East business and remembers the steady flow of customers from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility back in the day.
"Years ago, a lot of them come to our store for food. But then for awhile, we have seen a short-hand of it. Maybe because of the job unemployment? If they have more jobs increasing I'm very happy," said Tran.
Her wish could soon come true. Sen. Mary Landrieu's office announced $220 million being earmarked for developing a new space launch system at Michoud.
"We're still nine years after Katrina and there are parts of the city that continue to need to grow and expand. New Orleans East is one. So it's very important for that part of the city. It's frankly important for the whole region," Landrieu said by phone.
Landrieu's office says the United States relies on Russia to get astronauts to the International Space Station, costing taxpayers about $70 million per astronaut.
This funding is expected to change that. The new rocket-delivery system will help transport Americans to low-earth orbit, the moon and eventually to Mars.
While Landrieu says 700 jobs will benefit from the millions of dollars in funding that has been secured, New Orleans Councilman James Gray predicts many more job opportunities at the NASA facility.
"My information is it meant at least 1,000 jobs, possibly as many as 2,000 jobs. So it's a great deal for the city of New Orleans," he said.
According to Gray other businesses leasing at the Michoud site plan on sticking around.
"Two of those businesses have new contracts and they both think those new contracts mean a minimum of 125 jobs a piece. Maybe as many as 250 jobs a piece," added Gray.
For businesses like Matt's #2, this latest news is just another sign that new Orleans East is bouncing back.
"Slowly, we're getting there," Tran said.
In response to Eyewitness News request for an interview Michoud's Assembly Facility Director Roy Malone issued this statement:
"Michoud Assembly Facility is pleased to continue the long tradition of manufacturing NASA's human spaceflight vehicles. From the Apollo Program, throughout the Shuttle Program, and now as we continue building the Space Launch System, America's exploration of space has relied on products built right here in New Orleans, Louisiana. We look forward to our continued partnership with Louisiana's Congressional delegation as we make bold steps forward in advancing America's human exploration of space."