The National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) – a venture
that brings together researchers and educators – made its official leap from
the drawing board to reality today as the center celebrated the grand
opening of its core facility in Huntsville, Ala.

Art Stephenson, director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, and Dr. Frank Franz, president of the University of Alabama in
Huntsville (UAH), co-hosted today’s ceremony at the NSSTC. Leading the
ribbon cutting were Alabama dignitaries including U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer of
Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

A partnership with the Marshall Center, universities and federal
agencies, the NSSTC is a clearinghouse for cutting-edge research in space
science, Earth sciences, information technology, optics and energy
technology, propulsion, biotechnology and materials science and supports
NASA’s mission of advancing and communicating scientific research.

Stephenson welcomed attendees, including educators, scientists and
representatives from local industry. “Our success is dependent upon bringing
resources together to meet the demands of an ever-changing world,”
Stephenson said. “We have set out to create a research center designed to
revolutionize science and technology.”

The NSSTC was formed with NASA and the State of Alabama through the
Space Science and Technology Alliance — a group of six research
universities, including the University of Alabama in Huntsville; Alabama A&M
University in Huntsville; Auburn University in Auburn; the University of
Alabama at Tuscaloosa; the University of Alabama at Birmingham; and the
University of South Alabama in Mobile.

“The NSSTC brings together extraordinary resources from NASA,
Alabama research universities, and industrial partners to create world-class
research teams in targeted areas of space science and technology,” said Dr.
Frank Franz. “UAH is proud of the support and achievements it has given to
NASA and Marshall Space Flight Center in the past. We’re honored to play a
significant role in enhancing participation of our sister campuses in the
future. Working together, we can create great opportunities and great

“The possibilities are unlimited for the National Space Science and
Technology Center,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama. “The NSSTC is
the ultimate combination of the finest researchers and educators, with
cutting-edge resources and technology. This is a great moment for the State
of Alabama and for Marshall Space Flight Center.”

Today’s ceremony is the culmination of a process that began in 1995,
when NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin advocated establishing a new science
institute in Huntsville. In August 2000, the partnership to operate the
NSSTC was formally endorsed and an agreement signed by Stephenson and
Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman – an event also attended by Franz and Cramer.

“The National Space Science and Technology Center has been one of my
top priorities and our federal investment into this project demonstrates our
continued commitment to ensuring the success of this unique partnership,”
said Cramer. “This center has the potential of boosting science and
technology education across the state. I believe in this project and its
ability to keep Alabama at the leading edge of science and space research.”

A venture for pooling talent and resources in pursuit of new
knowledge, the NSSTC also fosters the education of the next generation of
scientists and engineers, with educators gaining experience, while
undergraduate and graduate students participate in the cooperative research.

The core facility is located in a 120,000 square-foot (11,148
square-meter) facility on Sparkman Drive in Cummings Research Park, with an
80,000 square-foot (7,432 square-meter) laboratory annex planned for later
this year. At full capacity, the center will house approximately 450 people
from NASA, other government agencies, academia and private industry. In
addition, virtual capabilities are located throughout the state and nation
at partner facilities.