The Magnolia State and NASA

The Magnolia State and NASA

As humanity reaches for the stars, the role Mississippi plays in the space program is an exciting look at the past success of the space program and the future that the Magnolia State is helping to create. From the astronaut who survived one of NASA’s most trying moments, to educational opportunities inspiring the next generation of explorers, Mississippi plays a proud role in the past, present, and future of the American space program.

Fred Haise Jr

In 1970, during the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program, Biloxi native Fred Haise Jr. joined two other astronauts on what was to have been the third trip to the surface of the Moon. Following events that were later immortalized in the 1995 film Apollo 13, Haise and the others returned home as American heroes.

Vice Admiral Richard Truly

Fayette, Mississippi native and U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Richard Truly [Photo – on the left] served NASA as a pilot testing the prototype Space Shuttle Enterprise and later as commander of the eighth space shuttle mission in 1983. Truly was tasked with overseeing the return of the space shuttle program after the events of the final Challenger mission and later became the first astronaut to serve as NASA Administrator.

Stennis Space Center

Once informally known as the “Mississippi Test Facility,” the area that is now designated the Stennis Space Center was announced in 1961. SSC was instrumental in testing the Saturn V rockets that carried the Apollo missions into space. In 1971, the space shuttle program used this facility for testing and certification of the shuttle’s main engines.

INFINITY Science Center serves as the official visitors center for Stennis Space Center. Visitors of all ages can explore their universe, from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico to frontiers in outer space. Featuring exhibits designed to inspire curiosity and learning, this facility combines artifacts, historic sites, and educational science programs to provide a unique look at the legacy of Mississippi as a venue for scientific discovery and ongoing space exploration.

Visitors are reminded to call for hours of operations and mask requirements.


The future of NASA is the Space Launch System, “the most powerful rocket in the world.” This is the rocket that will carry humans back to the Moon, to Mars, and beyond. The Artemis program is set to carry the first woman to the Moon, and it will eventually create a stable habitat from which to gather materials for a launch to Mars.