Aerospace Consultant Mike Rudolphi gives a look into what the future of the Space Program could hold

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – For those of us living in North Alabama, the space program has always been a part of our culture.  We are proud to be the home of the Marshall Space Flight Center and all of the space related research and development that goes with NASA.  Mike Rudolphi is the Engineering Director at MSFC and was the Head of Propulsion for the Space Shuttle and this week he stopped by WHNT News 19 to about the future of the space programs.

With this being an election year, there is a little bit of uncertainty concerning the future of the space program.  Every President from Eisenhower to Obama has tweaked the program a little.  Charlie Bolden, Administrator of NASA, claims that it does not matter who gets elected that the Space Launch System or SLS, which is the current development in the space program that will go much farther than the Space Shuttle could, will go on as planned.  Mike Rudolphi says “That’s a pretty bold statement.  I would tell you that I think about the President, they can do what they want to do and probably will.  It’s a real bold statement, I think that the part of the statement that I like, that there’s truth in, is that we do have a good system under construction right now that has a lot of capability, and we have been very fortunate the last three of four years to have very good support from the house and the senate.  I think his statement is probably true, but I always worry about the one sticking in the weeds that’s going to jump up and want to change things mostly because they think they can.”

Projections claim that NASA will launch the SLS into space in this decade.  Mike Rudolphi claims that, “We have got a lot of hardware coming together on the Space Launch System.  A major test is planned for Stennis in 2017, where we’re going to test the core stage, and then a launch scheduled some time a year after that.  Whether it be a year, or whether it be two years we are making a lot of progress.  All the elements of the program are through their critical design review. We are coming down the road of getting all the hardware qualified and tested, so we’re in that mode.  We’re done designing.  We’re now building.  So if you’re in this business for another three or four years, you’re going to get to see fire and smoke from a new rocket.  Now let me reiterate that the first rocket, the first test flight is not on a manned or a human rated test flight.  The second one will be occupied with humans, and then I think the program is evolving to what we’re going to do with the launches beyond that.”

View our entire conversation with Mike Rudolphi here in three parts:

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