LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The Saturn 1B rocket has been in place for 44 years at the welcome center on I-65 at the Tennessee state line, a proud symbol of the state’s input to NASA space exploration.
But, the deteriorating rocket has garnered attention for months and caused lawmakers and other officials to consider various options in how to proceed to refurbish or replace the monument that welcomes drivers to Alabama.
“It’s an iconic symbol of things Alabama was about in the now and in the future,” Senator Tom Butler said.
During the legislative session, state Sen. Butler introduced a bill to make a number of changes regarding the rocket. Saturn 1B has been ignored since the closure of the rest stop years ago. For the senator, there is no question about the future of the rocket.
“We think we can refurbish it and restore it to it’s status as it was before when it was put up and the goal is to keep the rocket there on the state line and as an iconic symbol of what Alabama is about today,” Butler said.
The state Governmental Affairs Committee in Montgomery discussed the bill that Butler introduced, but it raised questions due to the original law enacted in 2017 about the dismantling of state monuments.
The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act prohibits the relocation, removal, or disturbance of any monument located on public property which has been in place for 40 years or more.
Butler stated that his bill included only the rocket.
“I will get everybody onboard to refurbish and restore the rocket to what it should be,” said Butler.
According to Butler, the lack of upkeep on the rocket sends the wrong message to those from out of state. The House has already passed a line-item budget for $3 million for the repairs.