Impact of Mars Rover on North Alabama Jobs

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TENNESSEE VALLEY (WHNT) - The success of NASA's Curiosity mission is making an impact right here in the Rocket City, and it means jobs.

The Marshall Space Flight Center has a role in the Curiosity mission.  The center is managing several projects for NASA called technology demonstration missions.  One of these missions includes a team that measured the temperature and pressure on the spacecraft as it descended to the surface of Mars.

While Curiosity is looking for life on the Red Planet, NASA's new rover is bringing back life to America's space program.

"If anybody has been harboring doubts about the status of U.S. leadership in space, well, there is a one-ton size piece of American ingenuity and it's sitting on the surface of Mars right now and it certainly should put any such doubts to rest," said John Holdren, White House's Science Advisor.

See photos Curiosity is sending back from Mars.

A NASA spokesperson says the spacecraft that just landed on our neighboring planet is propping up 700 jobs.  That includes 400 NASA employees, plus 300 scientists it outsourced.

Of course, it helps that the Curiosity project has a massive $2.5 billion budget.  The biggest beneficiary has been rocket design company United Launch Alliance, which has a facility in Decatur.

About 1,500 ULA workers helped with the launch vehicle.

"Building the launch vehicles for the United States customers provides excellent jobs for the men and women of northern Alabama," said ULA's Ernest Roybal.  "We are very proud of what Atlas V has done."

NASA says Curiosity has generated 7,000 jobs over the past eight years.   The Curiosity project will keep people employed for the next two years.