Space exploration retirees receive grant for memorial fountain


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A memorial that ensures Huntsville’s space exploration contributions will be preserved is closer to making its debut at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The Madison County Commission presented the NASA/Marshall Retirees Association (MRA) with a $50,000 grant on Tuesday. The money will go towards the construction of a memorial fountain, honoring Huntsvillians’ work in space exploration.

Huntsville space explorers have built the rockets and spacecraft which have enabled humankind’s greatest journey, according to NASA/Marshall Retiree Association President Rick Chappell.

These efforts will be the focus of the memorial, “There is no better fitting tribute to recognize and honor the thousands of workers from NASA and their contractors whose dedicated teamwork made America’s space exploration possible from Huntsville and Madison County as well as all of North Alabama,” Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said in a statement. 

The plans are to open the memorial in 2023 to coincide with the Artemis launch to travel back to the Moon.

Space Exploration Memorial Committee | From L to R: Parker Counts, Rick Chappell, Chairman Dale Strong, Dr. Kimberly Robinson, Brooks Moore, John Blue

However, this project requires $1.5 million to build, and the association is still seeking to reach that goal. Donations for the memorial can be made on the association’s website in honor or in memory of others, and all donors will be recognized there unless otherwise requested.

Another part of the memorial is an online database that contains the names and accomplishments of the Marshall workforce and contractor employees.

An interactive kiosk will be built alongside the Space Exploration Memorial where visitors can search names found on the monument and learn more about that person’s specific contributions to the advancement of spaceflight.

Chappell said individuals and family members are encouraged to submit information of those to be honored to the Space Memorial Database.

He said the database currently includes the names of some 22,000 current and former members of the Marshall workforce, and the Association is encouraging all contractor employees to add their names as well. This will help ensure the history and legacy of all who have worked on the program.

“This memorial will forever recognize these space explorers and serve as an inspiration for generations to follow in their footsteps and take us back to the Moon, Mars and points beyond,” Chairman Strong said.

The association is excited to share the monument with the entire Huntsville community as a teaching tool for space campers and all those who visit Rocket City.

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