Huntsville a key part in future of space exploration - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Huntsville a key part in future of space exploration

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This year's Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium sets the tone for the future of space exploration and the vital role Huntsville will play.

With commercial launches, robotic and human exploration, and NASA plans and updates all set to be discussed, many wonder where Huntsville will fit in.

NASA's Associate Administrator, Robert Lightfoot, said the next big step for the agency is a mission to Mars - a mission that will never happen without the help of Huntsville.

"Huntsville has one of the key pieces, and that's the space launch system. That's the big rocket that gets us out of lower Earth orbit. I mean, we have to have that," Lightfoot explained.

The life support systems at the International Space Station will also be used for further deep exploration. Those systems are designed in Huntsville.

"We have to have systems when we leave, they have got to be working, and they have to work for a long time and you're not going to be able to fix them. You're not going to be able to come back in a couple of days, and Huntsville is designing those systems today," said Lightfoot.

The symposium wraps up on Thursday.

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