In a moment when the nation is rethinking how we memorialize historical figures who represent different values than our society today, an important NASA facility located in Mississippi is receiving national attention over its name.
Stennis Space Center is a NASA engine test facility located just north of Interstate I-10 in Hancock County, Mississippi. The NASA site is 39 miles east of NASA’s neighboring Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s not uncommon for engineers and project managers from nearby Slidell, Louisiana, to work at the Mississippi test facility.
The NASA site takes its name from the late Senator John Cornelius Stennis, a celebrated U.S. senator from Mississippi who served in Congress for over 41 years. Mr. Stennis can be described as a proponent of racial segregation based on the senator’s statements and voting record on civil rights policy while in office.
The issue of Stennis Space Center’s name has since been raised to NASA leadership. Today, the possibility of a new name is considered possible, but opposition from statewide and national leadership could be a roadblock.