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NASA announces new Stennis Space Center director

John Bailey has been named NASA’s new director of the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, where he will oversee testing of the space agency's rocket propulsion system that will launch Artemis missions to the moon. Photo courtesy of NASA
1 of 2 | John Bailey has been named NASA’s new director of the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, where he will oversee testing of the space agency's rocket propulsion system that will launch Artemis missions to the moon. Photo courtesy of NASA

April 29 (UPI) -- John Bailey has been named NASA's new director of the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, four months after he started serving as acting director, the space agency announced Monday.

"John will build on his nearly 35 years of federal service to lead our talented workforce at Stennis," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

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"So much of NASA runs through Stennis. It is where we hone new and exciting capabilities in aerospace, technology and deep space exploration. I am confident that John will lead the nation's largest and premier propulsion test site to even greater success," Nelson added.

NASA Stennis, which is a federal city near Bay St. Louis with a workforce of more than 5,200, is currently testing the RS-25 engines that will help power the Space Launch System for Artemis missions to the moon and Mars.

Last month, NASA completed a successful full-duration RS-25 engine hot fire at Stennis. It will take four of the RS-25 engines and a couple of solid rocket boosters, producing more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff to launch the SLS rocket for Artemis. While NASA began critical testing of the updated SLS engines last October, the new engines are not expected to power NASA missions until Artemis V.

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In addition to the leadership, direction and management of the Stennis Space Center, Bailey will be responsible for developing NASA's rocket propulsion test facilities and implementing the agency's rocket propulsion testing.

Bailey most recently served as acting center director at Stennis following the retirement of Rick Gilbrech in January. He was Stennis deputy director and has served in a variety of roles since joining NASA in 1999. Before that, Bailey worked as a communications engineer with the U.S. Air Force.

"This is an exciting time for NASA Stennis, and I am deeply honored to lead its great family of employees who make up this amazing workforce," Bailey said. "We are dedicated to continuing to provide frontline support to the agency's missions and initiatives. I look forward to our shared future and success."

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