In recognition of the Apollo 11 anniversary, the Partnership’s new Regions and Neighborhoods program kicked off in June with a special tour of NASA's Johnson Space Center's Building 9, followed by a luncheon panel discussing the local business environment, economy and culture in the Bay Area of Houston.
The experience started at Space Center Houston with a cinematic video detailing NASA’s history and monumental space exploration moments. Members then rode over to Johnson Space Center for a VIP ground floor tour of Building 9, the astronaut training facility.
Since 1980, every NASA astronaut has walked the floors of Building 9.
Led by Tracy Lamm, Space Center Houston’s Chief Operating Officer, Partnership members viewed Building 9. Members witnessed working modules of the International Space Station, Orion, space vehicle mock-ups and robotics projects, such as Valkyrie and the MMU.
At the end of the tour, members returned to Space Center Houston for lunch and an expert panel. After additional remarks from Tracy Lamm and series sponsor Bank OZK, the panel explored historical space moments for each of their companies and discussed future innovations and collaborations moving forward.
Bob Mitchell, President of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP), referenced the organization’s history and economic impact. He focused on how the organization was influential in saving and expanding the United States Military Reserves stationed at Ellington Field, as well as in the creation of the new Houston Spaceport, the world’s first urban commercial spaceport. He also touched on BAHEP’s commitment to strategic community partnerships with local educators and institutions, like San Jacinto College, funneling talent into STEM fields and ensuring a highly skilled workforce to meet the needs of area employers.
NASA Johnson Space Center’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Yolanda Marshall, detailed NASA’s Artemis program, the mission to visit the Lunar South Pole by 2024. She gave a broad overview of new technology, including the Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the Lunar Gateway, a small spaceship in orbit around the moon that will host living quarters, research labs, and ports for visiting spacecraft. She also shared that many Houston-based businesses are benefiting from the renewed focus on space exploration, including Boeing and Intuitive Machines, and discussed NASA’s partnerships across industries and academia. NASA’s focus on education and connecting kids to science at an early age has helped spur a new program for high school students, where they compete to submit their science project to be studied in microgravity on board the International Space Station.
Boeing’s Darcie Durham, Senior Director of Government Relations, said that every U.S. space vehicle carrying humans was made by Boeing or one of Boeing’s heritage companies. Currently, Boeing is building the largest rockets ever built for the Orion spacecraft, and is testing the Starliner, its latest crew capsule as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program, designed to take crews into low-earth orbit and to the International Space Station. Boeing is competing with SpaceX in a new space race to capture the flag left on board the ISS following the final shuttle mission in 2011. She also touched on Boeing’s local impact, with Boeing supplier and vendor purchases in Texas totaling $1.5 billion.
All three panelists stressed the importance of partnerships in the Houston region, and space innovation that is coming out of Houston once again.
The new Regions and Neighborhoods program of the Greater Houston Partnership provides members with resources, knowledge and contacts to help develop your regional and neighborhood business. Working with local community and business leaders, we connect members with unique regional assets and business opportunities. Click here for more information about membership.