NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC), the nation’s largest rocket test complex, will send a Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) to Kitty Hawk, N.C., for the Centennial of Flight celebration Dec. 12-17 at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

“The SSME is the culmination of aeronautic propulsion,” said Aerospace Technologist Bryon Maynard of NASA’s Propulsion Systems and Technologies at SSC. “It’s the extreme example of man’s achievement in flight.”

Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first heavier-than-air powered flight in 1903 lasted 12 seconds at 10 mph, and traveled 120 feet. NASA’s Shuttle flights have lasted up to 17 days at more that 17,000 mph, and have traveled over 5 million miles.

On Nov. 14, the 17,000-pound SSME left SSC on a flatbed trailer, bound for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where the Wright Brothers made their historic first flight.

The SSME that awed and educated visitors at its permanent home at StenniSphere, the visitor center at SSC, will be seen by an audience of more than 100,000 guests at the centennial celebration.
Maynard said, “Sending the SSME to Kitty Hawk is an opportunity for people to learn what NASA does in South Mississippi.”

SSC manages NASA’s rocket propulsion test assets and activities in Mississippi, at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, at Glenn Research Center in Ohio and at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. The center’s main mission since 1975 has been to test all Space Shuttle Main Engines that power the Space Shuttle during its 8 ?-minute ascent to orbit. SSC also tests and proves flight-worthy rocket propulsion systems for current and future space vehicles and provides test services for government and commercial customers.

Throughout the week, dignitaries from the aviation world and the U.S. military, as well as the general public, will take part in various activities marking 100 years of flight. The event culminates Dec. 17 with a reenactment of the Wrights’ flight in a replica of their first plane, hosted by actor and pilot John Travolta.

StenniSphere currently features a Centennial of Flight exhibit, “From First Flight to Space Flight,” which includes a 1/6-scale model of the Wrights’ first flyer, showcasing the astonishing achievements of human flight over the past century and highlighting the NASA-developed technologies that have helped make life better on Earth.

StenniSphere’s fall/winter hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center is closed Sundays and all major holidays. Tours begin at the Launch Pad, Exit 2, I-10, near Bay St. Louis. Admission to StenniSphere is free.

For more information, call (228) 688-2370 or 1-800-237-1821 or visit