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NEW ORLEANS - Wednesday is a big day for the NASA facility in New Orleans East as businesses from all over the United States came to Michoud to get involved in the next step for space exploration.

The construction of part of the Orion capsule and part of the Space Launch System, the rocket that will carry the capsule into orbit, has been underway at the facility.

'This is the start of something big. We are getting ready to build the core of the Space Launch System right here in Michoud,' said Todd May of the Space Launch System project. 'We are getting ready to start moving materials in and getting the folks back to work.'

Employees will build a 70 metric ton rocket, which is needed to go beyond low Earth orbit to the moon, an asteroid and, eventually, to Mars, May said.

The facility's Industry Day attracted 173 potential investors from 17 states.

'It's a tremendous amount of interest,' said Michoud Facility Director Roy Malone, who wants to showcase the facility in case some of the visitors want to relocate.

The Space Launch System will be the largest vehicle that mankind has ever built, Malone said.

'It's going to make a difference to the economy here,' he said.

Twenty to 30 percent of the facility remains unused and is available to other tenants, Malone said.

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