14 December 2016
Star Wars is a movie, but the real Force in space may be with Alabama as Sen. Jeff Sessions is reportedly exerting "wide influence" on President-elect Donald Trump's space plans.
The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 13 that Sessions is playing "an outsize role" in shaping Trump's NASA transition team and helping "vet" candidates for NASA administrator in the Trump administration.
Sessions represents Alabama, which is home to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. Marshall is NASA's main propulsion center and has led development of the big new deep space rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS). Sessions is a strong supporter of SLS.
Trump's NASA transition team added Huntsville aerospace executive Steve Cook to its ranks last week. When Cook worked for NASA under former President George W. Bush, he was a leader in the program to develop deep space rockets for a return to the moon and mission to Mars.
If Sessions is advising Trump and agrees NASA should focus on deep
space, that focus would likely find another powerful and sympathetic
Alabama ear in Congress. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) was one of a
handful of senators who forced the Obama White House to build SLS after
Obama killed the program Cook was helping lead in Huntsville.