Governor Visits Arsenal to Help Unveil Game-Changer for Space Exploration

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (WHNT) - Alabama Governor Robert Bentley tried to escape the pain of sequestration long enough to celebrate the unveiling of a huge new piece of equipment acquired by UAHuntsville.

Charger One, as it has been named, could be a game-changer for deep space exploration.

On Friday, Bentley helped pull the cords to unveil Charger One from behind a huge UAHuntsville banner.

Charger One is a Fusion Pulse Power Generator housed at the University's Aerophysics Research Center on Redstone Arsenal.

"Fusion propulsion represents probably our best opportunity for deep space travel," said UAHuntsville President Robert Altenkirch.

Simply put, scientists say this piece of equipment will allow space explorers to go much deeper in space, faster and safer than ever before.

"It would allow us to do long term trips to places like mars or the moons of jupiter, different areas of the solar system that we really want to see and study and know more about," said Ross Cortez, a UAHuntsville Graduate Student.  "It would enable us to get there quicker so that we have less harm to the astronauts themselves, due to radiation and things of that nature.

Cortez has been working to bring Charger One to Huntsville from California for quite some time.

He and his colleagues used the governor's new State Innovation Fund to make it happen, receiving a $300,000 grant and Governor Robert Bentley couldn't be happier.

"This type of innovation that we're seeing here today leads to new jobs and it supports the jobs that we already have especially here in this part of the state," said Bentley, standing in front of the huge metal structure.

The idea is the generator will attract more engineers to Huntsville to study and work on experiments possible because of this technology, which can be found only in Huntsville, still leading the world in aerospace and space exploration.

Bentley says any federal cuts will have no bearing on his Innovation Fund, since the money comes from state funds, not federal.

He worries, however, that job losses from federal cuts would hurt state funds in that they will mean a loss in income and sales tax dollars.

Bentley will leave Saturday for a trip to Washington D.C. for a meeting of the National Governors Association.  He said he'll be speaking directly with President Obama on Sunday and Monday.

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