On April 13, 2016, high school juniors participating in the Hancock Youth Leadership Academy continued their journey of economic development in Hancock County by visiting the John C. Stennis Space Center. The economic development session was the fourth session for the high school juniors. Students began the day with an overview of Stennis and a briefing on internship and career opportunities before traveling to the Naval Meteorology and Oceanographic Command Center. There they were able to view the tools used for scientific exploration of the ocean floor.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a world recognized aerospace leader in propulsions, sponsored both lunch and a tour of their facility. It is here that large liquid rocket engines are assembled and tested. HYLA student Elora Pierce of Bay High stated, “Aerojet Rocketdyne was fascinating! We learned a great deal about the technology involved in maintaining and manufacturing the engines as well as how it is to work there. The atmosphere helped me further consider becoming a real-life rocket scientist! Overall it was a very in-depth experience as to the workings of space exploration.”
The full day came to a close at the Naval Special Warfare Center for Maritime Training and Riverine Warfare. Here, the students met with the Commanding Officer and members of Special Boat Team 22, who specialize in riverine missions, often in support of SEALS. The students toured the facility and were able to board one of the riverine craft. Last on the agenda was a windshield tour of NASA’s Propulsion Test Complex where they young leaders were able to view the rocket stand where engines for all manned Apollo and space shuttle flights have been tested and where next-generation engines that will once again carry humans into deep space will be tested. The students were truly able to grasp the meaning of, “If you want to go to space, you first have to go through Hancock County, Mississippi.”
Picture HYLA students pictured with Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 Flight Engine: Designated to be flown on a NASA Space Launch System (SLS) mission. Front row: (left to right) Adara Rutherford (Hancock), Marie Konopacki (Hancock), Jasmine Martin (Hancock), Haley Akers (Hancock), Ariana Rusher (Hancock), Abby Ladner (OLA), Amy Keith (Hancock), Jordan Ladner (Hancock), Aidia Suter (Bay High)
Middle Row: Mike McDaniel (General Manager), Brooke Rasco (Hancock), Cooper Compretta (Bay High), Talia Jackson (Bay High), Morgan Lacoste (Hancock), Brooke Ladner (Hancock), Kloe Lloyd (OLA), Claire Lundgren (OLA), Elora Pierce (Bay High), Minerva Alonso (Bay High), Tarah Necaise (Bay High), Jill Seymour (Bay High). Back Row: Drew Burnett (St. Stanislaus), Seth Taylor (St. Stanislaus), Andrew Elkins (St. Stanislaus), Bradley Lewis (Hancock), Tim Papania (Hancock), Corbin Blanchard (St. Stanislaus), Cody Peranich (St. Stanislaus), and Dimetri Lyons (Bay High).